Digital Rape and the Importance of Consent Education

ABSTRACT

There is no doubt that rape is an extremely serious and heinous crime that has severe and detrimental consequences both for the victim and for society as a whole. It is a violent act that violates the bodily autonomy, dignity, and fundamental human rights of a person, and it constitutes a violation of their rights. The effect of rape goes far beyond the immediate physical and psychological trauma that the victim experiences as well as the impact of the crime of the survivor It also creates a ripple effect, causing fear, mistrust, and a sense of insecurity within the larger community. It is clear that rape constitutes a violation of the basic human rights of individuals, such as the right to life, liberty, and safety as individuals are concerned. It is a clear violation of a person’s autonomy, dignity, and physical integrity. Survivors of rape have significant physical and mental suffering. It results in long-lasting emotional scars including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sadness, anxiety, and a decline in self-worth. Not only the victim but also their relatives and close social networks are impacted by the trauma. Social ties and communal cohesiveness are broken by rape. It affects social connections and the general wellbeing of people and communities by sowing seeds of distrust, fear, and division.

KEYWORDS

Rape, Digital Rape, Social media rape, Sexually, Perpetrator, Compel, Penetrating.

INTRODUCTION

A digital rape[1] is thought to be a social media rape, where someone sends a sexually explicit message or photos through social media sites like What’s App, Facebook, Instagram, etc, but it has nothing to do with gadgets like computers, phones, laptops, or Meta-owned platforms. But originally it is different from all these things. It is a cruel form of rape that involves the perpetrator using his finger(s) to infringe on the victim’s privacy or to compel them to perform some sexual act upon them. The word comes from the English word ‘digit’, which literally means number or integer and this also can be finger or toes. As a sexually oriented act, digital rape applies to both victims and offenders. After the Criminal Law amendment act 2013, [2]the concept of digital rape was introduced in Indian Penal Code, earlier rape was considered only when a male private part was used in the penetration of a female sexual organ like the Vagina, Urethra, Anus, mouth of any person, but it says nothing about penetration by using another object indeed that sexual importunity of the female by using object cutlet isn’t considered in the description of rape. The several beast bloody brutes in the name of mortals used to commit such offence, but there was no rule regarding it the penetration of objects in the Indian law system that consider it rape. It is one of the largest loopholes in Indian rape law, preventing anyone from receiving a sentence for a digital rape under section of 376 the Indian Penal Code.

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

It’s a descriptive paper and the data is gathered from primary sources that are available in the public domain regarding the subject of digital rape, similar to published news reports and journals that are published by various believable sources available in the public domain on, for example, reported cases, legislated laws, and already published news reports.

REVIEW OF LITERATURE

After the Nirbhaya rape case[3] where Nirbhaya’s body was horrifically disfigured in addition to being assaulted sexually. According to a subsequent medical assessment, the attack left her with major injuries to her abdominal area, intestines, and genitalia. Doctors stated that the damage suggested that a blunt instrument, maybe the iron rod, might have been used for penetration, and an immediate need was felt to amend the rape laws in India. Before 2013, digital rape wasn’t incorporated under the definition of rape.

On the 23rd of December Government made the Verma committee[4] where that introduced the criminal law (Amendment) Act where they defined rape in the wider up way, he noted in his report that section 375 of the IPC (INDIAN PENAL CODE) that non-penetrating sex should be considered as rape. If we see then the definition of digital rape is not defined under IPC but through this amendment in its recognition, it says that non-penetrating sex recognizes as rape.

LEGAL PERSPECTIVE

The Indian Penal Code 1860[5] (IPC) indicates specific conduct that counts as rape under Section 375(b). According to the law, if a guy enters anything inside a woman’s intimate area—other than his private part, he is considered to have committed rape. This clause states that there are other types of sexual assault outside penile penetration and that any such conduct without the woman’s permission is a severe crime. This clause is intended to broaden the definition of rape and guarantee that a variety of non-consensual sexual actions are included by the law. It recognizes that rape includes any penetration of a woman’s intimate areas, regardless of the item or body part used, and is not just limited to penile-vaginal penetration. The purpose of this clause is to safeguard women’s physical freedom, sense of dignity, and sexual purity. By clearly identifying that the conduct may involve “any object,” Section 375(b) acknowledges that offenders might use a variety of things, such as fingers, tools, or other foreign objects, to commit sexual assault. This clause recognizes that such activities can seriously damage the victim’s bodily and mental health and makes the offender responsible for their actions.

It’s necessary to keep in mind that this clause applies when the act is carried out without the woman’s permission. The legality of sexual actions is heavily influenced by consent. Any entry into a woman’s private parts without her express, informed, and free agreement is regarded as a breach of her rights and autonomy, regardless of the item or body part utilized. A significant legal safeguard for women is provided by Section 375(b), which offers a thorough definition of rape that goes beyond conventional ideas of penile penetration. It emphasizes the value of consent, emphasizes the significance of bodily autonomy, and makes sure that those who are the victims of non-consensual sexual actions are given legal protection and justice. A society where everyone’s physical integrity and rights are protected and sexual assault is prevented, punished, and promoted are the main goals of this provision.

LEGAL PROVISION OF RAPE IN INDIA

  • Indian Penal Code 1860
  • Section 375 of IPC[6]– It is assumed that a man has committed “rape” if —

(a) Man, who penetrates into a women’s vagina mouth urethra, or anus with his penis or forces her to do so with him or anyone else

(b) Insertion of anything or any part of the body but not the penis into the woman’s   vagina, mouth, urethra, or anus or making her do with him or anyone else

(c) A man manipulates a woman’s body with the intention of causing penetration into her vagina, urethra, or anus, or makes her do this with him or another man

(d) If a man touches or uses his mouth in any way on a woman’s vagina, anus, or urethra, either with him or another man, When the situation fits into any of the following seven categories-

  1. It was against her wishes
  2. In the absence of her consent.
  3. Having her consent means getting her approval by making her feel threatened or vulnerable, whether it’s herself or someone person she is concerned about.
  4. When she gives her consent, even if she knows he’s not her spouse and that she’s giving it because she thinks he’s another guy she’s legally wed to or believes she is.
  5. With her agreement if, at the time of giving such consent, she is incapable of understanding the nature and consequences of that to which she gives consent due to her mental instability, intoxication, or the administration of any stupefying or unhealthy substance by him personally or through another.
  6. With or without her consent, when she is under eighteen years of age.
  7. while she is incapable of expressing her agreement.

    2. Section 376[7] Of IPC for the Punishment for rape

Rape is punishable by harsh imprisonment of either sort for a time that must not be less than ten years, but which may extend to life imprisonment, and must also be liable to a fine,

whoever commits rape on a woman under the age of sixteen shall be punished by rigorous imprisonment for a term that shall not be less than twenty years, but which may extend to life imprisonment, and shall also be subject to fine. As long as the fine is fair and sufficient to cover the victim’s medical bills and rehabilitation costs.

Furthermore, the victim must receive payment of any penalties imposed under this subsection.

  • Section 228A (2) of the IPC

The IPC’s Section 228A[8] deals with disclosing the name of a victim of specific crimes, including sexual assaults. The IPC’s Section 228A makes it illegal to reveal the victim’s identity in cases of rape, sexual assault, or offenses covered by Section 376, which deals with rape. The clause aims to safeguard the victims’ dignity and privacy.

As stated in Section 228A: Disclosure of the victim’s name, address, photograph, or any other information that would enable identification of the person who committed one of the offenses enumerated in this section is not permitted to be published, printed, or otherwise disclosed.

Exceptions: The restriction on disclosure has a few exceptions, including:

a) When the victim has expressly granted written permission to reveal her identity.

b) If the disclosure is made by a relative of the victim in order to support the victim’s legal defence.

c) If the disclosure is made by a representative of a government body acting in the public interest.

Penalty: – Breaking Section 228A’s rules is an infraction that carries a fine. The penalty for revealing a victim’s name is a sentence of jail that can last up to two years and/or a fine.

  • Indian Evidence Act 1872
  • Section 114(A)[9] of the Indian Evidence Act

In some rape trials, there may be a presumption that consent was not given.

  • Code of Criminal Procedure Act, 1973
  • Section 53[10](1)(4) of The Code of Criminal Procedure Examination of the accused by a medical practitioner at the request of a police officer.

When a person is detained on suspicion of committing an offense of a nature or in circumstances that give rise to a reasonable suspicion that an examination of the suspect’s person will reveal evidence of the commission of an offense, it is legal for a registered physician to examine the suspect at the police officer’s request.

Only female registered medical professionals may conduct examinations of female patients as required by this section, or they may do so under their supervision.

  • Section 164A[11] of The Code of Criminal Procedure – Medical examination of the victim of rape.

When it is suggested to have the woman with whom the alleged act of rape or attempted act of rape be examined by a medical expert during the course of an investigation, such an examination shall be carried out by a registered medical professional employed in a hospital run by the government or local authority; in the absence of such a practitioner, a registered nurse shall conduct the examination. within twenty-four hours of obtaining the information on the occurrence of such act, with the consent of such woman or of a person qualified to grant such consent on her behalf, and such woman shall be sent to such registered medical practitioner.

  • Section 372[12](2)(6) of The Code of Criminal Procedure- there should be an in-camera trial for all rape victims
  • POCSO ACT 2012
  • Section 3[13] of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012

A penetrative sexual assault-A person is said to commit “penetrative sexual assault” if—

  1. He makes the child do so with him or another person, or he inserts his penis into a child’s vagina, mouth, urethra, or anus; or
  2. He forces the kid to do so with him or another person, or he puts, to whatever   extent, any item or body part—other than the penis—into the child’s vagina, urethra, or anus;
  3. He either forces the kid to do so with him or another person, or he manipulates any portion of the child’s body to produce penetration into the vagina, urethra, anus, or any other part of the child; or
  4. He forces the child to do this to them or to anybody else by putting his mouth near the child’s penis, vagina, anus, or urethra.
  5. Section 6[14] of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012

Punishment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault.

A person who commits an aggravated penetrative sexual assault faces a minimum sentence of twenty years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison, meaning they will be imprisoned for the rest of their natural lives in addition to being subject to a fine, or they will receive the death penalty.

The penalty imposed according to subsection (1) shall be just and reasonable and shall be provided to the victim to cover medical costs and victim rehabilitation.

 CASE LAWS

Akbar Ali case, 2019[15]

In 2019, a man by the name of Akbar Ali who lives in West Bengal travelled to Noida for a family event and only to see his daughter’s home. Where Akbar Ali had seduced a little girl playing outside the house with toffees. He pulled the little girl into a room by herself and engaged in a digital rape under the disguise of toffees. Akbar Ali was charged with violating the POCSO Act and given a life sentence along with a fine of Rs 50,000.

Graphic Artist Maurice Ryder case, 2021[16]

Maurice Ryder, 80, resides in sector 46 in Greater Noida. He has a workshop in Shimla and works as a graphic artist. Seven years earlier, Maurice had taken custody of a 10-year-old girl in Shimla from one of his employees so that she might be studied and cared for. because the girl’s father did not have enough money to support his daughter. In 2021 a girl filed a complaint against Maurice Ryder for alleging that he had been digitally raping her for the previous seven years.

SUGGESTIONS

  • Stop victim blaming-

We could overlook the fact that the words and phrases we use every day have an impact on reality since language is so firmly ingrained in the culture. Our vocabulary is ingrained with attitudes that support rape: She had slutty clothing on. She had requested it. I know you want it, part of the words to a well-known song. By demeaning and objectifying women in popular culture and the media, it becomes accepted. You have the authority to decide not to use words or songs that cast blame on victims, objectify women, or justify sexual harassment. A woman’s attire, the type and amount of alcohol she ingested, or her location at a particular moment are not invitations to rape her.

  • Create a culture of enthusiastic consent –

Every time, consent must be freely granted. Instead of waiting for a “no,” ensure everyone is actively saying “yes.” Adopt a culture of enthusiastic consent and share it with others.

  • Speak out against the rape culture-

When we accept masculine ideals that characterize domination and violence as “strong” and “male,” and when women and girls are given less importance, rape culture may endure. Victim-blaming, a mentality that believes an attack victim rather than the offender is to blame, also serves as its foundation. The sobriety, attire, and sexual orientation of a victim are unimportant when addressing situations of sexual assault. Instead, challenge the assumption that sex is an entitlement and challenge the belief that men and boys must acquire authority via violence.

  • Broaden your understanding of rape culture.

Rape culture may take many different forms across settings and time. It’s critical to understand that rape culture extends beyond the constricting image of a man raping a woman when she is out alone at night.

Like child marriage and female genital mutilation, rape culture comprises a wide range of destructive behaviours that deprive women and girls of their autonomy and rights. Understand the causes of and beliefs surrounding the rape culture.

Although no one disputes that rape is immoral, sexual violence and sexual harassment are normalized and devalued via words, deeds, and inaction, sending us down a slippery slope into rape culture.

Know the history of rape culture. Throughout history, rape has been employed as a tool of oppression and conflict. It has been used for genocide, ethnic cleansing, and the degradation of women and their communities. This does not have any fast readings. You can begin by studying about the use of sexual violence in previous and current wars, such as the Kosovo conflict, the Guatemalan civil war, or the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

CONCLUSION

We now have laws for the heinous crime known as “digital rape,” which was previously only considered to be molestation before the Nirbhaya case and the 2013 amendment that added it to the IPC and POSCO Act. However, there is very little public awareness of this crime, so the government should work through campaigns to raise awareness and empower people to speak out if they have ever experienced it.

For the benefit of the entire society, our lawmakers should look into this issue as soon as possible. A predator shouldn’t get away with their crimes just because the law doesn’t hold them accountable.

Rape is a despicable crime that is unquestionably no longer limited to coitus. In order to prevent forced sexual acts against women and children, the idea of digital rape was developed. Given that there are other methods for a criminal to breach a woman’s or child’s fundamental decency.

Criminals attempt to rape women and children digitally in the hopes that they would escape punishment because they are not physically attacking the victims’ bodies with their penises.

Under earlier Indian penal laws, the government would have a very difficult time prosecuting these instances. It is hoped that the addition of digital rape to the categories of rape (Date rape, marital rape, custodial rape, gang rape, etc.) and the punishment for it would offer educated protection for women from such horrifying crimes committed by violent perpetrators.

Name- Nishtha Shreshth

College- Galgotias University Greater Noida, Gautam Budh Nagar, Uttar Pradesh.


[1] Meher Kaur, Digital rape punishment and where it recognised under Indian law, Jus corpus,10th July2023, https://www.juscorpus.com/digital-rape-punishment-and-where-it-is-recognized-under-indian-law/

[2] Indian.gov.in, https://www.india.gov.in/criminal-law-amendment-act-2013, 10th july2023

[3] Hindustan times, https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/delhi-2012-gang-rape-case-what-happened-on-december-16/story-GboszJckGgslhWHpRcci4K.html , 10th July 2023

[4] Ndtv, https://www.ndtv.com/cheat-sheet/recommendations-of-the-justice-verma-committee-10-point-cheat-sheet-511292 , 10th July 2023

[5]Bare Act, Indian penal code, sec 375(b), No.45, Act of Parliament 1860, Legislative department gov of India, https://lddashboard.legislative.gov.in/sites/default/files/A1860-45.pdf , 11th July 2023

[6] Bare Act, Indian penal code, sec 375, No.45, Act of Parliament 1860.

[7] Bare Act, Indian penal code, sec 376, No.45, Act of Parliament 1860

[8] Bare Act, Indian penal code, sec 228A, No.45, Act of Parliament 1860.

[9] Bare Act, Indian Evidence Act, sec 114A, No.1, Act of Parliament 1872

[10] Bare Act, Code of criminal procedure act, sec 53, No.2, Act of Parliament 1973

[11] Bare Act, Code of criminal procedure act, sec 164A, No.2, Act of Parliament 1973

[12] Bare Act, Code of criminal procedure act, sec 372, No.2, Act of Parliament 1973

[13]Bare Act, protection of children from sexual offences act, sec 3, No.32, Act of Parliament 2012

[14] Bare Act, protection of children from sexual offences act , sec 6, No.32, Act of Parliament 2012

[15] Times of India, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/noida/noida-75-year-old-gets-life-term-for-digital-rape-of-a-minor/articleshow/93915778.cms , 11th July 2023

[16] India times, https://www.indiatimes.com/news/india/80-year-old-noida-man-arrested-for-digitally-raping-teen-since-she-was-10-years-of-age-569669.html , 12th July 2023

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