Understanding the psychological and societal implications of necrophilia- a comprehensive analysis

Abstract

A review of the closed records of 211 sex murders revealed 16 cases of necrophilia. The results of this unique descriptive study of necrophilia in sex homicides provide insights into crime scenes, methods of killing, physical dispositions, sexual assault before death, details of necrophilic acts, methods of victim abduction, and motivational dynamics. The results suggest that the most common explanation for necrophilia — the offender’s desire for a non-resistant mate — does not always apply in cases where this rare paraphilia is linked to sexual homicide. In these cases, it is possible to use behavior at the scene of the crime to clarify series of sex killings.

Keywords

Necrophilia , sexual desire, IPC, crimes, dignity, corpse, judgements, the Indian constitution .

Introduction

Etymology

Necrophilia term is derived from the Greek words philios  meaning attraction/love  and nekros meaning  corpse and thus it  encompasses sexual attraction to a corpse. 

Origin

Surprisingly, necrophilia dates back hundreds of years and has been documented in Greek mythology, ancient cultures, the Greco-Roman period, the Middle Ages and modern times. Though The exact date to the origins of necrophilia does not appear to be well understood or documented, and therefore further research is required.

Records

Funeral directors, mortuary attendants and undertakers have been known to be caught sexually abusing bodies, and there have been people digging graves to get bodies to have sex with. the actual prevalence of necrophilia is unknown, as  necrophilia is mostly covert and the victim cannot report the act. If it is true that necrophilia is associated with those who commit sex-homicides, it is actually just as rare among sex-homicide offenders; it occurs in less than 1% of sex homicide offences. 

There is a wide range of scavengers, from those who only eat the genitals or breasts of a deceased person, to people who want to devour only certain parts, to necrophiles who eat the whole body. Because there is little research on necrophilia in the literature, clinicians and researchers have found that necrophilia is homogeneous. For example, those who experience a strong sexual desire to  consummate  with a corpse may not kill the victim but instead use a job opportunity.

Classifications

Rosman and Resnick (1989) reviewed 88 cases from the
worldwide literature and 34 unpublished case reports. From this they formed two groups: (1) true necrophilia (n=54) and (2) pseudo-necrophilia (n=33). 

Aggrawal (2009) lists nine classes of
necrophiles in the medico-

ClassNameCharacteristics
Class IRole playersPeople who get aroused when pretending their partner is dead during sexual activity.
Class IIRomantic necrophiliacsBereaved people who remain attached to their dead lover’s body.
Class IIINecrophiliac fantasizersPeople who fantasize about necrophilia, but do not physically interact with corpses.
Class IVTactile necrophiliacsPeople who are aroused by touching or stroking a corpse, without engaging in intercourse.
Class VFetishistic necrophiliacsPeople who remove objects or body parts from a corpse for sexual fetishes, without engaging in intercourse.
Class VINecromutilomaniacsPeople who derive pleasure from mutilating a corpse while masturbating, without engaging in intercourse.
Class VIIOpportunistic necrophiliacsPeople who normally have no interest in necrophilia, but take the opportunity when it arises.
Class VIIIRegular necrophiliacsPeople who preferentially have intercourse with the dead.
Class IXHomicidal necrophiliacsNecrosadists, people who murder someone to have sex with the victim.
Class XExclusive necrophiliacsPeople who have an exclusive interest in sex with the dead, and cannot perform at all for a living partner

Table 1 [1]

Research methodology

This paper was jotted down using the doctrinal and socio legal approaches to research .The primary secondary sources including  government documents, national newspapers articles, online resources ,so referred , have been mentioned. There was no field work based empirical data used while preparing this piece.

Review of literature

Necrophilia dates back to ancient roman period when historians believed that people were so soul-bound that they simply could not accept that death was a possible cause that could destroy their relationship. Thus, in the event of the death of a person eternally loved, their corpses would be preserved in order to continue the activities undertaken with the other partner prior to death. These activities did not show any effects related to the occurrence of sexual activity. Lately, it was discovered that office incharges were engaged in digging graves to have sex with the dead body. The studies conducted by various authors brought classifications to this phenomenon. Still, currently, there hasn’t been ample research on the topic which leaves it quite unnoticed ,despite the gravity of the offence. .”Sexual attraction may manifest itself in the necrophile’s fantasies or in a series of necrophilic acts” . Of the total, 92% were male and 8% were female. The Indian society is not away from the touch of this barbaric act, rather there have been a steady rise in the matters . but the comprehensive criminal law framework ie the Indian penal code (ipc) lacks to provide the due recognition to this crime hence paving way for the leeway to the offenders. Besides, there are few countries of the world that explicitly mention and ban such sexual activity in their respective criminal legislations.

MOTIVES
 The most common reason for necrophilia is that a partner is unable to resist or reject him.   necrophiles have historically claimed to have more than one motive.

Less common motives 

  • Unavailability of partner
  • Compensation for the fear of women
  • hallucination, compliance with regulation
  • Perform a series of demolition actions
  • Make naughty polymorphic sexual desires
  • Requirement for unrestricted sexual activity

Rise of necrophilia in india
India has witnessed many cases of necrophilia in the past decade, but there are no specific penal laws against such crimes. The most notorious case came to light in 2006 and has been dubbed the “Nithari serial murder case.”[2] Police arrested a wealthy businessman and his servant on suspicion of murdering a 19-year-old  girl . After a thorough investigation, it was revealed that the two were involved in the killing and sex with the bodies of nearly a dozen children. 

 2018, a 20-year-old Gurugram worker accused of rape admitted he had been a necrophile to many of his victims.

In June 2019, another shocking case erupted in West Bengal where a serial killer was arrested by police for killing seven women and having sex with their corpses.[3]

Recent incident- Karnataka- 2023[4]

The Karnataka High Court observed that “necrophilia is a morbid fascination with death and the dead and more particularly, an erotic attraction to corpses.Examining the evidence, the session’s judge found that the prosecution had proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused committed murder and subsequently “raped” the victim’s body.[5] Asserted that it is “high time for the Centre to amend the provisions of Section 377 IPC to include dead bodies, the court also offered an alternative that the Centre brings in a separate penal provision to criminalize necrophilia with life imprisonment up to 10 years with a fine. The court also ordered the installation of CCTVs in Karnataka morgues within six months and directed the government to maintain hygiene and privacy, ensure the security of clinical records and information, and sensitize mortuary staff.”

These are just some of the incidents, there are many other cases that have shaken the human soul with their behavior and actions. All of these cases show that there has been a constant incidence of necrophilia cases over time.

SOCIETAL IMPLICATIONS – INDIAN CONTEXT

The above incidents are barbaric not because of the number of victims but because of the nature of  crimes committed. Furthermore, “crimes against the dead”,  IPC has very limited scope for such morally upsetting crimes. They were prosecuted under S. 297 and 377 of IPC in all general cases of necrophilia, as there was and still is not a specific law regarding sexual intercourse with a corpse, which fully respects human dignity of injured, dead person. However, given the infinite number of categories of necrophilia prevalent in society, invoking these two poles is proving to be a challenge for authorities.

arguments – drawing attention to the complexity of the applicable penal provisions

S.297IPC-  penalty for person who trespasses on a burial site, insults a human corpse, or offends feelings of another person.Its purpose isto prohibit trespassing in tombs with reference to religious feelings. But if the presence is of an official nature, the morgue attendant, porter, etc. cannot be held liable because the defendant did not commit trespassing,  is the first assumption of this section. 

Punishment for a crime so serious that it affects society as a whole and also violates the fundamental right to a dignified burial  i.e imprisonment for one year has no mitigating effect on the offence.

Navtej Singh Johar v Union of India [6], the Supreme Court decriminalized S.377 as a punishment for consensual sexual acts between two adults of any sexual orientation. In order to punish an individual, three basic conditions are required: [i] consensual sex [ii] against the order of nature [iii] with any man, woman, or animal. The general case of necrophilia satisfies only two basic requirements. One of the basic requirements, namely consensual sex, is still not recognized in the current Indian legal system. With necrophilia, there is no way to determine whether intercourse is intentional or unintentional. If the deceased’s consent can be proven, they are certainly guilty of rape or sexual assault. The other two essential requirements of this article are fully met as it states that the relationship must be “unnatural”. The term “violation of nature” and “against the order of nature” itself is vague and imprecise in the absence of an objective definition, but the declaration of the “Victorian principle” is any sexual intercourse that does not end in procreation, i.e. against the Nature. Therefore, cases of necrophilia fit very well under this heading, as they do not lead to procreation. Finally, the third important point: According to S.10 IPC, “male” means a male of any age and “female” means “female” of any age. After death, the human body becomes a quasi-subject before the law, but remains “human” and thus s.377 can be invoked. a slight correction is needed on this point in order to avoid the inadequacies of the provision and to adequately assimilate the crime of necrophilia.

s.511 IPC punishes the attempted crime. R v. Cheesman[7] also states that cases of necrophilia fall within the scope of this article. The degree of moral guilt of the perpetrator in the case of an attempt is the same as if it had been successful. The rationale is that the real man commits the crime. So if the rape was committed on a corpse, the rapist would be guilty of raping the man because if the victim were alive he would be responsible for the crime of rape. 

The need to amend a law or introduce a new law arises only when both cases arise in the Indian judicial system. There have also been cases where a law was formulated in India based on similar implementation in other countries. One of these concerns cases of ‘necrophilia’, for which there is a growing need for legislation.

In India, the act of necrophilia has no chance of the recognition it deserves. Although there have been numerous cases involving or related to the idea of ​​necrophilia, the Indian judicial system still lacks the proper means or legal basis to properly define the act of necrophilia. Since then, in most cases, the accused has had a clean slate just a few years after the accident.

According to the law, in various cases of necrophilia, the corpse becomes a kind of property of relatives, which is doubly worrying for some. Because against this background, necrophilia becomes a terrible tragedy, and not a sexual assault on a person.

PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPLICATIONS

Insanity links

As such incidents began to appear in the Indian press and legal system, many psychologists and eminent figures were of the opinion that the act of necrophilia was mainly motivated by the possibility of mental insanity. Therefore, a person engaging in, or expected to engage in, necrophilic activity is considered to be in a situation where they lack precise control over their senses and emotions.
They have an idea of ​​the factors to be considered and offer the accused or convict an opportunity to defend themselves on the basis of mental insanity. On the other hand, the new generation of advisorsand the press with experience in these acts has a vision that breaks with the existing approach. They believe that an act of necrophilia, in which a person is accused of a sex offense by handling a corpse , does not entitle the spirit into insanity. In many cases such acts represent the bestial, angry, or the serious nature of the perpetrator, in which the sexual act is performed in the full and sane sense and with voluntary interest.

Therefore, if such acts are found guilty, they should not give rise to the possibility of a plea of ​​insanity and  be punished with an appropriate penalty, commensurate with the seriousness of the offence.
Possessive nature

Necrophilia is not just about a person’s propensity to commit sexual offense against the deceased. A side of necrophilic tendencies also underscores the romantic nature of the person, whom he describes as being so possessive that they do not accept the fact that their loved ones no longer exist in the current world and have taken the path of death. In such cases, they keep the corpses of their loved ones and spend time with them [8].They perform various activities, such as speaking with deceased loved ones, to maintain their belief that their loved ones are still with them. Such people are extremely sensitive and  so touchy that they simply cannot accept that their loved ones are no longer part of the living .psychology experts have also recommended holding these people in the false belief and making no effort to educate them about the death status of their loved ones.

The Dignity of the Dead According to the Constitution of India

There have been a plethora of court decisions that have upheld the dignity of the deceased by Art. 21 of the Constitution. In Paramananda Kataria v UOI [9]It was recognized that “Article 21 imposes on the State an obligation to protect life and extends not only to life but also to corpses.” . In Mujeeb v State  of UP[10] it was repeated that according to Article 21 the word “person” conferring the right to a dignified life also extends to his corpse. Additionally, in Amrutha v. Commissioner[11], the court found that “deceased persons also have a right to privacy and their souls should not be chained, having immortal life after death.”

International perspective

Necrophilia is considered a felony by some US states and a criminal offense by others. Permitting or punishing the ill-treatment of a corpse was considered a crime, and harsher penalties no doubt seem inappropriate since the resulting damage is only a shock. Violation of respect for the corpse reflects neglect of the dead. Treating the dead should be considered tantamount to treating unusual difficulties among the living.

  • United States-
  • There are no federal laws against necrophilia .Legislation is left to the initiative of  the federal states. Approximately forty out of fifty states in the United States have laws governing criminal activity involving dead bodies.
  • Four states, namely Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii and Rhode Island, specifically use the term necrophilia in their statutes, and the other thirty-six states have multiple necrophilia statutes [12]with penalties ranging from one year (in several states) to fifteen (in Georgia) and twenty (in Massachusetts).
  • Model Criminal Code [13]  criminalizes the handling of a corpse in a manner inconsistent with the normal sensibilities of the family. Section 70 of Sexual Offenses Act of 2003 specifically states that it is a criminal offense when a person knowingly or recklessly sexually penetrates any part of their body into any part of a dead body. The penalty for this crime is imprisonment for not more than six months, or a fine, or both.
  • Canada’s Penal Code of 1985 makes necrophilia illegal without specifically using the term necrophilia, penetration or a gender-related word –  anyone who acts indecently or indecently, or insults the corpse or its remains, commits a criminal offense and is punishable by imprisonment for up to 5 years[14]. The wording of this provision is somewhat similar to that of s. 297 IPC, which also contains derogatory terms for any human corpse, although the difference is that an understandable interpretation of Canadian law makes necrophilia a criminal offense but IPC does not make necrophilia a criminal offense as it makes it a criminal offense only if a burial site has been invaded, whereas under Canadian law it is independent of the corpse a crime is buried
  • The French Penal Code also does not use the term necrophilia or anything similar, but the simple implications for a simple understanding of Article 225-17mean that the behavior falls within its scope and therefore constitutes a crime. The prison sentence provided for in French law is only one year (maximum two years), but the fine imposed for these acts is high (15,000-30,000 euros), at least from an Indian point of view, which calms down in the amount of the sanction to be applied. [15]

Suggestions – Future Defense Availability

necrophilia cases in the current legal system are the most preventable cases where anyone accused or convicted of necrophilia enjoys parole status. In the absence of substantive legislation that upholds the law and gives the accused leeway when necrophilic activity is uncovered, the judicial system is often unable to deliver justice. As noted above, in the absence of a necrophilia law, those accused and convicted of such activities typically face laws enacted for other purposes, such as crimes against nature committed during sexual intercourse. defense of insanity turns out to be very immoral at first, for it is a common saying that not everyone accused of necrophilia can fall victim to an unhealthy nature every time. Often the very act of necrophilic activity reveals and recognizes the seriousness of the crime and the bestial nature of the person involved. Even in the simplest sense, a person engaging in sexual activity with a corpse qualifies as Act, shown by the presence of animal nature. Hence a stringent law and identification of such barbaric act as also held by the Karnataka high court in the recent judgement. With the growing prevalence of necrophilia, it is time for Parliament to clarify its position by taking action to criminalize it by amending the IPC or adding a new section as the current provisions do not have a mitigating effect on crime and the effective resolution of necrophilia cases, as well as the protection of the public interest and order.

Conclusion

It seems that one of the reasons for cremation of the corpses after death in some communities (of which the Hindus are the best known) or for burying the corpses in or in tombs of hard granite and marble was to prevent disturbance by necrophiles. Necrophilia is a little known phenomenon nowadays, almost all countries have laws against necrophilia; Some are powerful and some are weak or cunning. India is at the bottom of the latter category of countries, as its legislation in this regard is worse and less clear than that of other countries. This fragility and uncertainty has contributed to the deliberate questioning of S.297 and 377 of IPC as to whether or not they make necrophilia a crime. The entire criminal justice system pays no attention to the dead and the condition of the bodies remains in a very peculiar situation. It therefore takes a moment for the legislature to recognize this serious crime against society as a whole.

Aastha Choudhry

Faculty of law, university of allahabad , prayagraj, UP.


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Necrophilia .

[2] Mohinder Singh Pandher vs C.B.I.

[3]  Santanu Chowdhury, ‘I shudder every time I hear a knock on the door’, Indian express, west-bengal-rapes-murder-necrophilia-brutal-murshidabad-kamruzzaman-sarkar/  (last visited 14 July 2023).

[4] Rangaraju @Vajapeyi vs State of Karnataka.

[5] Express News Service, karnataka-hc-acquits-murder-convict-of-rape-charges-recommends-centre-amend-law-to-include-necrophilia, Indian express( last accessed 14 July 2023).[6] Navtej Singh Johar v Union of India , WRIT PETITION (CRIMINAL) NO. 76 OF 2016.

[7] R v. Cheesman, [2019] WLR(D) 90.

[8] Necrophilia; Is it an Offence, Rostrum’s Law Review, Volume III, Issue 1. Retrieved from https://journal.rostrumlegal.com/necrophilia-is-it-an-offence (last visited 14 July 2023).

[9]  Paramananda Kataria v UOI, 1989 AIR 2039, 1989 SCR (3) 997.[10] Mujeeb v State  of UP , CRIMINAL MISC. BAIL APPLICATION No. – 55281 of 2019.[11] Amrutha v. Commissioner , W.P.No.33762 of 2017.

[12] J. Troyer, Abuse of a corpse: a brief history and re- theorisation of Necrophilia laws in the USA, 13.2 Mortality, 134, (2008).

[13] Section 250.10, Model Penal Code, (Official Draft, 1962).

[14] Section 182, Criminal Code of Canada, 1892.

[15] – A. Weinstein, Gawker, here are the States Where Blowjobs Are Illegal but Necrophilia’s Cool, available at: https://gawker.com/here-are-the-states-where-blowjobs-are-illegal-but-necr-1563878569 , T. Bigler, Necrophilia is legal in These States, available at: https://gawker.com/here-are-the-states-where-blowjobs-are-illegal-but-necr-1563878569(last visited 14 July 2023).

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