This article was written by Anahita Gaind a student of Army Institute of Law, Mohali
Elucidating sexual harassment is a multiplex job owing to the fact that there are differences in opinions, ideas, knowledge and the social environments of individuals and groups. An individual’s interpretation of sexual harassment is framed by various kinds of societal factors like religion, education and past experiences with sexual harassment. It is also very awkward to investigate the malleability of how an individual expresses sexual harassment acts. Specific genres of sexual harassment, such as sexual harassment at workplace, rape at workplace, personal questions of sexual nature, vulgarities and other offensive language, any unwelcome sexual advance can be major elements in public definition of sexual harassment. The prime thing to be noted down is that in sexual harassment victim and perpetrator can be of any gender and the place of harassment can be any school, office, home, university, coaching centers or any other. Also, with the advent of the Internet, sexual harassment has increased by occurring online.
According to the PEW research statistics 2014, 25% of women and 13% of men between the ages of 18 to 24 have experienced sexual harassment while online. One cannot ignore the statistic of harassment with men. For sexual harassment against women, there are many legislations and statutes prevailing in India. But, we can’t ignore the sexual harassment against men also. In India, under Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, there is a “right to equality”. If legislation does not take into account the men related issues too and will only stresses upon the women related issues, then this right is in violation. As it provides equality before law and equal treatment before law. So, there must be ‘equal access to justice’ in case of both men and women.
This report would manage specifically with sexual harassment as well as female- on- male rape. The researcher would further inspect the sexual harassment with men at different places .The analysis would then further discuss the case laws as well as the need of making sexual harassment and rape laws gender neutral. The author, in the end, has concluded the note, thereby putting forth his suggestions to tackle the menace of sexual harassment with men.
B. SEXUAL HARASSMENT of men at different whereabouts
Sexual violence can happen to any soul, no matter what your age is, your sexual attitude, or your gender identity. We usually perceive and see harassment or rape cases related to females only and this is the reason that legislations are made only for the women victims. But, this doesn’t mean that men are away from the evil of sexual harassment or rape. Now days, males face one in ten cases of exasperation also. Men and boys who have been sexually pester may have many of the identical feelings as other survivors of sexual assault, but they face many additional challenges because of ‘social ridicule’ and ‘stereotypes’ about men masculinity.
While the sexual harassment of females has consistently declined in the past few years as government has made some very efficacious legislations in India. But, sexual harassment of men is increasing at a very lofty rate. Today, the main area where males are facing this evil is at their workplaces. Mostly, the harassment at workplace is done by male colleagues or by female bosses. Out of all wars, this is one of the darkest one. At workplaces, sometimes the female bosses asked the male colleagues to lift their shirts and show their muscles as well as shout at them and humiliate them in front of co-workers. These kind of executions pushes the male colleagues to become the victims of sexual assault and harassment. According to Roberta Chinsky Matuson,
“Many people mistakenly believe that harassment is limited to females,”
Also the perpetrators against the victims are using physical force, psychological force or many other emotional coercion tactics. At workplaces, males sometimes are mentally tortured for the sake of their job. If a male needs a job and he is not having any other substitute then he although unwilling to accept sexual advances, have to accept from females or male colleagues. But, these kinds of brutal incident not only physically ruin the body of the victim but also destroy his soul.
Sexual harassment at workplaces also consists of rape, which can either be female-on- male rape or male-on- male rape. The rape of men by men has been recorded as a weapon of terror in warfare. So, other than at offices or workplaces male rape is also very common in prisons, schools, coaching centers, also sometimes at home. But, due to the lack of any legislation or statute these rape cases remain unreported. According to Justice Krishna Iyer,
“A murderer kills the body but a rapist kills the soul.”
- Who will protect men from sexual harassment ?
The actual first question which demands to be put forward is who will protect men from sexual harassment? In India, the legislations talks only about sexual harassment and rape of women. There is no law, no statute to sheild males from the bloodthirsty act of harassment and rape. Under Indian law, there is only one section 377 of Indian Penal Code which talks about ‘sodomy’. Except this section, all other laws and sections are meant only for females.
We can say that there is unfair access to justice. When we talk about India, we pick out that much importance is given to rights of the people but why there is violation of ‘Right to equality’? Our Indian Judiciary, society and legislations all talks about equal rights and equal treatment of men and women. But, dolefully these sort of loopholes and misfiring to make any laws for sexual harassment, sexual assault or rape shows uncut violation of ‘Right to equality’.
Sexual harassment of men requires more intentness than any other climbing crime or issue because male suicides at workplaces are 4 times more than the female suicides at workplaces. Gender neutral laws have found accepted in approximately 77 countries around the world including, the U.K., Denmark, Australia, the U.S. and many more. But, disturbingly, the Indian Parliament has repeatedly rebuffed to make laws against sexual harassment gender neutral in india. This problem of sexual harassment with males is more frequently taking place in prisons. According to G Pramod Kumar ,
The People’s Union of Civil Liberties had this to say about Tihar way back in 1981: “When a young boy enters, the prisoners have been known to have bid a price for the boy. The price offered is in terms of ‘bidis’, soap or charas. Often prisoners have been divided into camps and the groups have fought each other on the issue of who shall have the new entrant”.
So, without any requirement of further discussion or doubts, it is very authoritative to make the sexual harassment as well as rape laws gender neutral in india. So that , there must be equal ‘access to justice’ in india. Also, the people of our society needs to alter and adapt their minds and must toss out the beliefs that men are strong and cannot be raped or that they can sheild themselves in case something wrong will happen to them. Also, if you are believing that ‘men cannot be raped’ than you should also keep this in mind that ‘women can rape’. Sexual harassment can occur to any person at any age and place. So, the word ‘any person’ here highlights the fact that women are always not that quiet, tranquil and soft. Sometimes they also take brutal steps and do harass men especially at workplaces because harassment by female bosses at offices is becoming very common these days.
D.Conclusion and putting forth suggestions to make Sexual harassment laws gender neutral in India
With ample voices calling for protecting males from this brutal act, it is hard to ignore the want to do so; thereby arranging for an effective legislation to come up. As we admit that harassment may not always be a one-way street, it’s important to remember that the bulk of traffic flows in a single direction which means that mostly people observes about harassment of females. There is a necessity to take the issue of sexual harassment of males to the government, to the society etc. so that people should also understand and hear the exclaim of a man too.
There is a demand of ‘equal access to justice’ for both males as well as females. For this, the government and legislation must have to make laws, which safeguards the males from various kinds of harassments, assaults or rapes etc. at different areas. The main sector, which needs to be taken care of, is sexual harassment at workplaces. Also, there is a need of educating and make students or children aware about such harassments. So that, if in case they suffer from any such act then, they shall be able to approach to any authority or any elder person rather than suffering from pressure and mental agony.
The men should be engulfed in the ‘Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2012’ as soon as possible. Also, some specific sections should be inserted under Indian Penal Code to protect harassments against males. As, we are having only 1 section related to sodomy under Indian Penal Code. Also, the need of the hour is to change the mindsets of the people of Indian society who believe that a man is not made to cry and only a woman cries. This is a completely wrong notion as all those who have hearts and souls, are also having dignity, emotions, self-confidence and respect too for themselves. Acts like harassment attacks the soul and it is immaterial whether the soul is of a male or of a female, harassment kills the soul and pushes a person into a state where he or she begin to reflect that they are not of any worth. In addition to this, it is also very important to note down that harassment with any human being is wrong as we are all humans first then males and females. For the sake of humanity it is a very brutal act and both the male as well as female perpetrators must be punished equally under law. For this reason, the question whether harassment of females need more attention or of males is immaterial. So, my point of elevating this issue is only to give equal rights to the male victims as of female and to invocate the legislation to furnish ‘equal access to justice in India’. Nicole Kidman has rightly said that,
“Imagine a bold plan for a world without discrimination, in which women and men are equal partners in shaping their societies and lives. Let’s picture it!”
 Maeve Duggan. PEW Research Centre. 2014.”Online Harassment”. “http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/10/22/online-harassment/
 Tahmincioglu. Eve, Male sexual harassment is not a joke,available at http://www.nbcnews.com/id/19536167/ns/business-careers/t/male-sexual-harassment-not-joke/#.Vg6U8J47tuY/ (last visited on 21st july, 2015 at 08:05 P.M.)
 A human resource expert, Florida, United states.
 Rafiq v. State of U.P., AIR 559 SCC 1981.
 Author, at firstpost.
 UN Women Goodwill Ambassador.