Rape Laws


The rape laws are found in Chapter XVI of the Indian Penal code and came into existence in the 1860s. Section 375 of the IPC defines rape as when a man has sexual intercourse with a woman under the circumstances such as against her will and without her consent. In some instances, it is considered rape even with consent.


The inadequacies of this law have been debated of almost 150 years until the 2013 amendment. Rape cases such as the Mathura Rape case (1972) and Nirbhaya case (2012) are the two main cases that led to the revision of the law. However, despite the number of incidents from the Mathura case that should have led to an amendment, it finally happened in 2013, since The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women were outraged at the details of the grotesque nature of the Nirbhaya Case. The case got so much international coverage that the organization made sure that the government of India and the government of Delhi, did everything in their power to ensure that the women of the country received justice and felt safe and secure.

The Amendment

After the amendment, the laws included the penetration of the penis and insertion of an object into the vagina, mouth, urethra or anus of a woman as rape as opposed to the previous understanding of rape as just the peno-vaginal penetration. Manipulation of a woman’s body part to cause penetration as well as the application of mouth into any part of woman’s body or making her do so with him or any other person is also considered rape. The amendment also increases the age of the consensual sex to 18. Explanations as to the definition of the terms “vagina” and “consent” are also provided.

The Loopholes

However, despite the law being clear about what rape is, it still has a few loopholes that can be attributed to the existing patriarchy within the act itself. Even after the amendment, the law fails to remain gender neutral, therefore perpetuating the already existing stereotype that a perpetrator is always a man and the victim is always a woman. The law conveniently ignores the LGBTQI community and their struggles regarding sexual, which is again complying to the unsaid rules of hegemonic masculinity.

Even with modified laws, the patriarchy in it fails to get erased from the minds of citizens of India as well as the judiciary. The statement, “Rape is not merely a physical assault — it is often destructive of the whole personality of the victim. A murderer destroys the physical body of his victim; a rapist degrades the very soul of the helpless female”  by a judge during the case of State of Punjab v. Gurmit Singh, suggests that a woman is degraded from the essence of her being if she is raped. Patriarchy may be removed from the words within the laws, but how far it can be removed from the minds of the implementers of the law is something that remains questionable.