Senior Lawyer And Rajya Sabha Member KTS Tulsi Introduces Bill For Gender Neutral Rape Law
Senior lawyer and Rajya Sabha member KTS Tulsi on Friday (12 July 2019) introduced a Private Members’ Bill to amend the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The Bill introduced in the Rajya Sabha seeks amendments to IPC to provide protection from sexual exploitation without discrimination on the grounds of sex to women, men and transgenders.
After introducing the Bill in the House, Tulsi said that he would be sending the Bill to several members of Parliament as it was a “social issue and not a political issue”.
“Law needs to be balanced. The balance has been disturbed. All sexual offences should be gender-neutral. Men, women, and other genders can be perpetrators and also victims of these offences. Men, women and others need to be protected,” Tulsi further said.
The Bill says that modesty is an attribute which attaches to the personality with regard to commonly held belief of morality, decency and integrity of speech and behaviour, in any man, woman or a transgender, and if it is outraged its victim can be anyone irrespective of gender.
The Bill also seeks to replace the word ‘man’ with ‘whoever’ in the law book with regard to sexual offences like stalking, voyeurism, sexual harassment at workplace and rape.
To emphasise on the purpose, the Bill says that there has been a series of incidents of sexual assault where persons of either sex suffered injuries, psychological trauma as well as death at the hands of the offenders.
It also calls for the insertion of a new section 375A in the IPC with a provision for punishment up to three years imprisonment, to punish “sexual assault” defined as “intentionally touches the genitals, anus or breast of the person or makes the person touch the vagina, penis, anus or breast of that person or any other person, without the other person’s consent except where such touching is carried out for proper hygienic or medical purposes”.
While changes in section 375 under the 2013 amendment act redefined ‘rape’ as penetration or insertion and introduced stricter punishment for sexual harassment and molestation under section 354.
Tulsi had last year filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking a gender-neutral rape law but a bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul dismissed the petition saying that it was a matter for the legislature to examine.
The Law Commission in its 172nd Report submitted in 2000 had proposed modifying rape laws to make them gender-neutral.