NEW DELHI: The government has decided to amend the Indian Penal Code (IPC), replacing the word “rape” with “sexual assault” in the existing law in order to broaden the ambit of crimes covered under the sections and make the provisions gender neutral.
“The home ministry is working on a draft Bill. It will soon be brought in the public domain for detailed discussion over all the provisions relating to sections covering rape,” said a senior home ministry official.
Making sexual assault “gender neutral” will imply that the relevant sections of IPC can be slapped on accused of any gender who has committed the crime.
“The provisions can be imposed on sexual crimes inflicted on women, men and children thus broadening the reach,” said the official.
As per Section 375 of IPC, penetration is sufficient to constitute sexual intercourse necessary to the offence of rape but with the proposed replacements coming in, sexual assault will also cover crimes like sodomy, fingering, insertion of foreign object and other similar offences which do not come under the present definition of rape.
The move is seen as a way to harmonise the provisions of law to prevent sexual crimes among homosexuals as well. Insertion of such a provision assumes significance in view of the Delhi High Court order, which decriminalized sex between two “consenting” adults of the same sex last year.
The home ministry has also sought the views of the law ministry on the proposed amendment Bill.
According to the ministry’s latest data, cases of child rape continue to rise as a total of 4,721 cases were registered during 2006, 5,045 in 2007 and 5,446 in 2008 across the country. The data also indicated that over two lakh women were victims of sexual crimes in the country during the period 2006-2008.
On an average, about 191 women every day were either victims of rape, sexual harassment or molestation in three years from 2006. The figures show that a total of 61,552 cases of rape were registered during 2006-2008 in the country.
While 19,348 cases were registered in 2006, the number rose to 20,737 in 2007 and to 21,467 in 2008.