Legal Recognition of Male Rape in Bangladesh
Almost every day we hear about women getting raped through newspapers, social media, and sometimes from our friends and family members. The concept of male rape is entirely alien in this country. People typically have no idea that it is even possible for a man to be raped, and hence the subject is virtually never discussed in contemporary Bangladeshi society.
There are a number of commonly accepted myths that can make it difficult for a man to publicly name an experience of rape. Some of them are:
1) Men can defend themselves;
2) Men can’t be raped or sexually assaulted by women or another man;
3) Only gay men are sexually assaulted;
4) Men who are raped are damaged and scarred for life;
5) Male Survivors of Sexual Violence do not need treatment etc.
If we think from our point of view then Male Rape is, of course, a crime. But in some countries there is no law relating to Male Rape. There is no provision of Male Rape in the criminal laws of some countries. They recognize “Rape” as a crime that can be committed only against women. Therefore, they do not recognize Male Rape as a crime and there is no mention of any kind of punishment for committing this offence.
Is there any law in Bangladesh relating to Male Rape or not?
If we discuss about the laws of our country, i.e. whether there is any law relating to male rape or not, then we first need to know what are the laws regarding rape in our country.
Section 375 of the Penal Code defines ‘Rape’ and section 376 of the Penal Code provides the punishment for committing Rape. Section 9 of Nari O Shishu Nirjatan Daman Ain also provides the punishment for committing Rape.
The above-quoted sections consider only women as victims of rape, and men as perpetrators. There is no mention of a man being raped by a man, or by a woman because both cases are considered to be impossible. There is no provision or law that says if a man faces the same situation where he is raped or sexually harassed, either by a man or a woman, he would get equal justice from the judiciary. There is no relief of male rape as this crime does not even exist in the law books. We are in a situation where disclosure of male rape is difficult as there is no legal, social, medical, or familial support for the victim.
Even though there are punishments for homosexuality in our country under section 377 of the Penal Code 1860. Here, the idea is that males can only be sodomized, but not raped.
The above mentioned sections also violate articles 27, 28 and 31 of the Constitution as they discriminate on ground of sex. Therefore, it is a violation of human rights.
Some Male Rape victims in Bangladesh
Some of the stories of male rape victims are given below:
One such story is that of Jamal Uddin from Gazipur, who committed suicide after a group of men allegedly gang-raped him, recorded the footage of the incident, demanded a payoff, and later threatened to spread the video on social media, if he failed to pay. A mortified Jamal killed himself ultimately. His relatives said that he did so to avoid shame and dishonor.
Mohammad Shawkat, a 13 years old boy, was raped by two police constables in July 1993 in Dhaka. He subsequently disappeared from the hospital where he was being treated, possibly because he feared retaliation or was threatened by police.
In 2019, a boy of Class 3 was mistreated by his madrasa teacher in Feni. And, in Rajshahi, a 55 years old madrasa teacher was jailed over charges of sodomising a teenage student.
Necessity to amend the laws relating to Rape
It is high time to revise the legal definition of rape and make it gender-neutral. Moreover, the Parliament needs to enact laws to provide justice to male rape victims, especially male children. It is the right of a man or a male child rape victim to get legal shelter under the existing Penal Code and special penal laws. Our Government should take proper initiatives to address the ambiguity and dilemma in dealing with rape and sexual harassment against men and male children by inserting necessary provisions in the Prevention of Women and Children Repression Act, 2000 and the Penal Code, 1860.
Finally, it should be now known to us all that the rape of men is also very prevalent in our society. Human rights should be for everyone, male and female. We always hear about female rights. But male victims also need the protection of the law.
Ignoring Male Rapes won’t change anything but accepting it would surely make a difference.