Supreme Court dismisses plea to make sexual assault gender neutral

The Supreme Court refused to admit a Public Interest Litigation filed by a practicing advocate which sought the declaration of all penetrative and non-penetrative sexual assault provisions in the IPC as gender-neutral – both with respect to the victim and the perpetrator. The challenge was based in the premise that these provisions, under which only a man can be the perpetrator of sexual assault, and only a woman can be the victim, ignore social realities and are violative of the fundamental rights to equality and against discrimination on the basis of sex. The Court dismissed the petition on the grounds that classification along the lines of sex had been a policy decision of the legislature, and thus, could only be remedied by it. While inclusion of trans persons and men as victims in the definition of rape is necessary, women’s rights groups have resisted the push for a rape law with a gender-neutral  perpetrator, as this is plainly a backlash against women’s increased reporting and prosecution of rape.

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