Written By:- Saamya Gautam|| Graphics By:- Khushi Arora
What is sexual assault?
‘Sexual assault’ covers a wide range of unwanted sexual behaviors that are often used by offenders as a way to assert power and control over other people. The term sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the victim.
Sexual assault includes:
Rape—sexual intercourse against a person’s will, Forcible sodomy—anal or oral sex against a person’s will, Forcible object penetration—penetrating someone’s vagina or anus, or causing that person to penetrate her or himself, against that person’s will, Marital rape, Unwanted sexual touching,Sexual contact with minors, whether consensual or not, Incest (Sexual intercourse or sexual intrusion between family members.), Any unwanted or coerced sexual contact, Pornography, Female Genital Mutilation
Symptoms to identify someone has been a victim of sexual assault
Shock-The person might get afraid and feel uncomfortable of suddenness
Fear-The person might experience fear of the offender, of being alone, or of not being believed.
Silence-Unable to talk about the assault, or to describe what it feels like to have been assaulted, out of fear of being judged.
Anxiety-unsafe or unable to relax.
Depression-Sad or depressed, unpredictible mood, mood swings.
Guilt and blame-Asking ‘Why did I go there/allow it/not fight back?’
Low self-esteem-Lost or lack of self-confidence, and feel ‘unworthy’, ashamed or ‘dirty’.
Isolation-Wanting to be alone, and to isolation from family and friends.
Nightmares and flashbacks– Images and memories of the assault intruding on daily life and sleep.
Mood swings-Mood changing quickly from anger and rage, to tears and despair, and back again.
Loss of confidence– Worried about your ability to do your work or study, or lack confidence with friends or your partner.
Loss of trust– Finding it hard to trust people in your social circle or family.
What to do if you/someone you know has been sexually assaulted
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, it’s not something you have to live with on your own. Here are some things you can do straight away:
Ensure/Make sure that you/they are safe-If you’re in immediate danger, or you’re worried about your safety, contact emergency services on 112 immediately and try to get to somewhere safe.
Talk to someone-Find someone you can talk to such as a friend, family member, counselor, or youth worker. /Talk to them Contact an organization in your state or territory that can give you relevant information on seeking help.
Get confidential help-Call the confidential helpline to talk with experienced counselors. Have a look at sexual assault support for more information.
Get medical help-If you’ve been sexually assaulted, medical support is essential. If you can get to a hospital or health centre, where they can give you appropriate medical care.
Trust yourself/ Trust them-If someone has assaulted you or somebody you know, they may not feel confident about what to do next. Remember that it’s never okay for someone to assault somebody for any reason.
Know your legal rights-The legal framework has been made for the safety and protection of its citizens, reach out to legal help.
Laws against Sexual assault in India
Section 354 ,IPC
Criminalises any act by a person that assaults or uses criminal force against an individual with the intention or knowledge that it will outrage her/his modesty.
Such an act is punishable with either simple or rigorous imprisonment of up to 2 years, or a fine, or both.
Section 354 A, IPC
Committing any of the following acts:
(i) physical contact and advances involving unwelcome and explicit sexual overtures
(ii) a demand or request for sexual favours
(iii) showing pornography against the will of an individual
(iv) making sexually coloured remarks
(v) unwanted verbal or physical advances of any kind.
The punishment as given above is rigorous imprisonment for a term that may extend to 3 years, or a fine, or both.
Section 354B, IPC
Criminalises assault or use of criminal force against an individual with the intention of disrobing him/her, i.e. with the intention of depriving him/her of him/her clothing or forcing him/ her to be naked.
Such an act is punishable with either simple or rigorous imprisonment of 3 to 7 years and a fine. Aiding such a crime also carries the same punishment.
Criminalises any individual watching or capturing the image of any man/woman engaged in a private act in circumstances where he/she would usually not expect to be observed by the perpetrator or by any other person on the orders of the perpetrator or the distribution of an image so captured by the perpetrator.
Punishment for committing this offence is simple or rigorous imprisonment of 1 to 3 years and a fine.
Criminalises stalking of a man/woman by any other man/women.
It defines the Act to include continuous following or contacting any individual by another individual or attempts to contact any individual to build a personal relationship with that even when the individual has shown a clear lack of interest.
It also include acts of monitoring an individual’s electronic communication, i.e. communication over emails, social media etc.
Either simple or rigorous imprisonment of upto 3 years and a fine
Defines rape to include any or all of the following acts, by an individual against any other individual:
- Penetration of a man’s sexual organ (penis) into a woman’s mouth, vagina, urethra, or anus or making her do so with him or someone else; or
- Inserting any object, not the penis, into a woman’s vagina, urethra, or anus or making her do so with him or someone else; or
- Manipulating any body part of the woman to cause penetration into her vagina, urethra, anus, or any other body part or making her do so with him or someone else; or
- Applying his mouth to a woman’s vagina, urethra or anus or making her do so with him or someone else.
- Similar with similar sex or a woman doing the same to a man or similar sex.
- Similar acts with other genders.
Under the following circumstances:
- Against his/her will;
- Without his/her consent;
- With his/her consent, if such consent is obtained by causing her fear of death or hurt for himself/herself or for someone he/she knows;
- With his/her consent, if she believes the man she is engaging with sexually is his/her husband/wife;
- With his/her consent, where due to unsoundness of mind or intoxication, the man/woman is not able to fully understand the nature and consequences of the act he/she consents to;
- With or without the consent of an individual who is below 18 years if age;
- When the man/woman is unable to communicate consent.
Importance of Consent legally and morally
Consent to any sexual activity is pivotal to the reduction and prevention of sexual assault and coercion.
Consent is a voluntary, sober, enthusiastic, informed, mutual, honest and verbal agreement. It is an active agreement and cannot be coerced. Consent is a process which must be asked for every step of the way; if you want to move to the next level of sexual intimacy, just ask! Consent is never implied and cannot be assumed, even in a relationship. Just because you are dating a person does not mean that you have natural permission to have sex with your partner. A PERSON WHO IS INTOXICATED CANNOT LEGALLY GIVE CONSENT. If you are too drunk to make decisions and communicate with your partner, you are too drunk to give consent. The absence of a “no” does not mean “yes”. both people should be involved in the decision to have sex!
Sexual assault is something you would read about each day, but not talk of any day. We need to understand and stop normalising such offences. These are not only illegal but immoral, against the victim, against the society and against Humanity.