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Cases Of Boys Being Sexually Assaulted On Rise: Kerala HC Raises Alarm

In a concerning observation, the Kerala High Court said that we must not forget men too are subjected to sexual assault. Justice Devan Ramachandran said that cases of POCSO in which boys are subjected to sexual assault have seen a significant rise.

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Rudrani Gupta
New Update
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The Kerala High Court said that men too are subjected to sexual assault. On February 28, Wednesday, Justice Devan Ramachandran said in an oral judgement that cases of POCSO in which boys are subjected to sexual assault have seen a significant rise. The court made this observation while addressing a petition filed by a doctor against the protocol in which only women gynaecologists are allowed to examine sexual abuse survivors. The court has decided to hear the petition on March 5.

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The petition by the gynaecologists targets Clause 6 of the Kerala Medico-legal Protocol for Examination of Survivor of Sexual Offences, established in 2019, and its subsequent amendment in April 2023. The crux of the petition is that not only female gynaecologists, but any medical practitioner should be able to examine sexual assault survivors. 

Restricting the examination to gynaecologists directly contradicts Section 27(2) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act), and Section 164A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) that allows any medical practitioner to examine the sexual assault survivor. 

Restricting the examinations of sexual assault survivors on the gynaecologists is not only illegal but also improper, unreasonable, and arbitrary. Medical practitioners who meet the criteria mentioned under Section 53(2)(b) of the CrPC should be able to conduct the medical examinations.

The petition also highlighted the pressure that women gynaecologists face in the hospitals. It also said that this specialisation-based approach has led to delays in conducting the examinations of sexual assault survivors, compromising the care and support that these individuals should receive. 

"Therefore clearly, entrusting the responsibility of conducting a medico-legal examination to a certain kind of specialists has proven to be counterproductive to the actual object sought to be attained by the State and has also resulted in compromising and prejudicing the even otherwise stressed obstetrics speciality," the petition by the doctors said. 

What did the judge say

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As per the reports, the judge said, "Sexual assault is not confined to girls, it happens to boys also. It is rare but it is possible. I know that it is happening. But generally, we take care of women. Generally, ninety-nine per cent of sexual assault victims for some reason are women."

Furthermore, he questioned the rationale behind the petition and said, "I don't know why you should be concerned. We are trying to give maximum support to the victim. It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the victim."

Rise of POCSO cases involving boys

Talking about the rise of boys being subjected to sexual assault in POCSO cases, the judge said in an oral remark that the doctor has "assumed" that the sexual assault survivors are women. "You should have qualified that the victims you refer to are women victims alone. There are men, and young boys being abused. I have seen a couple of cases recently. There are more boys in POCSO matters these days." he remarked.

Although the court has agreed to hear the petition on March 5, the judge said, "You (petitioner-doctor) should take it as a social commitment. You should go even if you are called at night. You run and go if you are on call when you get money. I don't find this protocol to be wrong but if there are any problems in the working of it, we can certainly iron it out."

Recent cases of men's sexual assault

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The judge's observation is crucial in the times when reports of boys being sexually assaulted are on the rise. Recently, a 14-year-old boy from South Delhi was made to lick shoes and perform sexual acts on three of his teenage friends. The friends also recorded the scene and put it up on social media.

On January 13, around 6:30 pm, the 14-year-old boy was returning home after playing at Central Park in Delhi's Hauz Khas when three of his friends, aged between 12 and 14 years, forced him to go to an isolated place. One of the trio pointed a vegetable knife at the 14-year-old boy and made him lick his shoes and perform an 'unnatural act'. The boy was forced to lick the shoes of his friends, and his friends also put their private parts into the boy's mouth. They made a recording of everything and posted it on social media.

The friends threatened the boy not to tell anyone about what had transpired between them. And so the boy didn't tell his family about his ordeal. However, the incident came to light when one of the assailants sent the video to the boy's mother. On Sunday night, after receiving the video, the boy's mother approached the police. 

Within a span of a few days, a 20-year-old man killed his friend who demanded unnatural sex from him. The incident happened in DDA Park of Mori Gate in Delhi. The duo were having a beer together at an isolated place on January 17 when the deceased started demanding unnatural sex from the accused. On being denied, the deceased started a fight which led to his death.

Conclusion 

We need to understand that sexual crime and domination don't depend on gender, at least not anymore. Sexual predators prey on anyone whom they assume to be a weak sexual object. Sexual crime is a means to not only fulfil 'scandalous' desires that cannot be expressed in the open but also to punish someone who crosses the imagined boundaries. Our system to tackle sexual crimes should not be only focused on protecting certain genders. But also on destigmatising sex as a consensual act for pleasure. In this way, not only will the hidden desires have a vent but also sex will be normalised as a means to express love, not hatred.  

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As far as choosing the right medical practitioner for examination is concerned, it is important to dwell on this issue. The medical examinations of sexual assault survivors are the most important evidence. Delay or improper examination can affect the legal procedures of the sexual assault case leaving the survivors and their fight for justice in the limbo. There is no denying that sexual assault cases are registered almost every day. This might lead to extra pressure on people who conduct the medical examinations. So it is necessary that the facilities are improved and the right decision is made to fasten the medical examinations and make them accurate. 

However, we also need to focus on the preferences of sexual assault survivors. Sexual assault survivors might not be comfortable with any medical practitioner. They might have gender preferences which needs to be addressed if the medical examination has to be conducted accurately. 

Views expressed are the author's own.  

POCSO case kerala sexual assault on men Kerala High Court
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