The Voiceless?

“My uncle was giving me a bath when I was 7 years old, and that’s when it first happened. He forced me to give him a blow job and proceeded to have anal sex with me, multiple times. At that point, I didn’t know what was happening to me, whether it was ok, whether it was normal. I got so used to it, I would enter his house and lie down on the bed, just wanting it to get over as soon as possible. At 12, I began to get gang-raped by his friends, and I would bleed but keep quiet… My childhood went by having two worlds where I would not remember the rape until something triggered it off and then I would cry endlessly. I grew up having no self-esteem.''

Humans of Bombay, a popular Facebook page, brought this incident out in the open in 2015, with the consent of the person, obviously.

How many of you instinctively related this story to a woman? Many of you might have, but this cringing story is a sneak peak of a man’s childhood, not a woman’s.

2017 it is, and sexual assault on men is, as prevalent as sexual assault on women. So why is that men have Facebook Pages and such forums as their outlet while our women have the nation marching in unity, with candles. Not like the marching with candles is of any consequence, but why is that, the possibility of sexual assault on men is overruled so blatantly? And why is it that men talking about their sexual assault as not as welcomed and glorified as women talking about their eve teasing instances?

Why is that a tear shed by our daughters calls forth a national uproar, complemented with candles but a tear shed by our sons is wiped away in silence?

Sexual violence is undoubtedly underreported among women for a variety of reasons. Men and boys face their own set of challenges in revealing sexual abuse because of society's expectations for what it means to be a man. Out of the few male sexual assault cases which are reported, many of them later on are withdrawn. Whereas, the number of unreported cases are numerous. Our judicial and relief mechanism are far from efficient, but it’s our mindsets that hinder the reporting of these cases, more than the inefficiency of the system.

''Society mein hum kaha muh dikhaenge?''

''Bhai, teri toh nikal padi, bina kuch kare ladki ne sab kuch kardia'' ~ but hey, is consent to be exercised only by women?

Is it too difficult to see a man, as the one inflicted rather than the inflictor? Or it seems easy to assume that 'he must have liked it', or that ‘if he wanted to stop, he was capable of defending himself’?

Mock and smirk follows the reporting of the cases. Police officers, lawyers and sometimes, even our close ones are smirking at the ‘unmanliness’ of the man. The ‘stronger’ sex has a difficult dilemma to deal with, with the unsolicited assumptions of always being capable of defence, not being allowed to shed tears and rape being an ‘experience’, exclusive for women. Fortunately, the weaker sex gains from these assumptions. At least they gain somewhere.

It is imperative, we change our mindsets. Torture is torture, try not being sexist here.

The clearly sexist society is less empathetic towards male victims. Leaving the poor souls to suffer in silence. Can you imagine the uproar the so-called ‘feminists’ would have created, had women been meted with the same kind of treatment. But guess what? Men are tough. Men are strong. Men are safe.

One country’s legal system is supposed to be an output of its society. Expecting it to have different views from the society, is being downright unrealistic. The IPC Sections 354A, 354B, 354C and 354D, dealing with sexual harassment, disrobing, stalking and voyeurism, refer to men as the perpetrators of these crimes and women as victims.

Likewise, Section 375 of the IPC, which deals with the definitions of rape and legal provisions following the act, has no mention of male victims. The Section reads, “A man is said to commit rape...

Anyway, expecting legal reform is step 2, step 1 is changing our mindsets. Like I said earlier, the legal system is an output of society, it has never been the other way round.

It is important for us, as a society to collectively recognise the reality of sexual violence against men. It must not be restricted to periodic short-lived outrage every time a crime is publicised. Instead we need an ongoing discussion on this matter so that the rights of male rape survivors are not violated and the victims are given equal attention.

I am not trying to subvert the trauma of female victims, being a female, I am definitely not aiming at that. But it is the 21st century, we can’t have an 18th century outlook. Victims deserve justice and care, whether it is a man or a woman. It is unfair to uplift one and oppress the other. Expecting the situationally weaker sex to mask their trauma and surrender to stereotype, is as bad as committing the crime itself. For, not addressing the issue, is allowing a pathway for the issue to occur again, if not actively, definitely passively.

As a society we need to be more accepting of the fact that your gender has nothing to do when it comes to being a sexual assault victim, it can happen with anyone and we should be more open about it so that the person who needs help can reach out to the right people. And, as a parent, sibling, friend, or a colleague we just need to tell them that, we believe you and we are there for you!

Edited by - Diya Mathew

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