If Molestation does not Discriminate, why do we ?

If Molestation does not Discriminate, why do we ?

It was the perfect Saturday night. With my husband and some common friends. Stories, good food and a drink or two in the comfort of my house is all it takes. One of the stories that made way that evening was how a friend of my husband was propositioned by an auto driver in Pune. And how, because of his boy band looks, he was often hit on by men. People laughed and I wondered. Another friend shared a story of a similar incident that happened to him in a DTC bus in Delhi. People laughed some more and I was left to wonder.

Why were they laughing? I would never share the incident of a man whipping out his penis in front of me in the middle of the road in broad day light, with a laugh (Yes that happened!). My friends have never shared their encounters with a pat on the back and loud laughter. The only two emotions I connect with such incidents is anger and disappointment. While humor is a great defense mechanism, I wonder (some more) whether laughing over it would really stop it from happening again.

We have separate compartments for women in the Delhi metro. If we didn’t, we would hear an endless list of incidents of being groped. But does molestation really discriminate? Do men not get groped as much? Are we even looking for a solution in this case?

The National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB), is a government agency which is responsible for the collection and analysis of data related to crime in India. The facts about the rise in crime against women with regards to molestation and rape have escalated manifolds over the years. But a startling report of the year 2012 revealed some disturbing details about crime against men in similar light. According to the NCRB data of the year 2012, 175 men were kidnapped for the purpose of forced intercourse. The NCRB report also shows that since 2009, 995 men have been kidnapped even for forceful marriage and molested in the process.

Let me cite an example of a developed nation such as America. A book called “Betrayed as boys: Psychodynamic treatment of sexually abused men. Guilford: New York” cites a study conducted in the year 1996 of 600 college men. The inference was that 28 per cent of those surveyed admitted to some form of sexual abuse as a child. These are only a few facts that bring out the dark side of the otherwise ignored problem.

We all know that the incidence of unregistered incidents against women is far more than those registered. This is primarily due to the burden of taboo that the woman has to carry. To acknowledge this very fact and talk about it openly, took a while. Cases of molestation against men is oscillating between denial and ignorance even today. And I am talking about the educated section of the society here. On an average, a man gets abused at the age of 10 in India. While in 70% of the cases men are abused by men, there have been many cases of woman abusing boys. However, it is difficult to estimate the extent of abuse by females, since abuse by women is often covert. Also, when a woman initiates sex with a boy he is likely to consider it a “sexual initiation” and deny that it was abusive, even though he may suffer significant trauma from the experience. There is also no independent body or work done to find out the exact incidence of molestation of men or sexual crimes against them. If only ignorance could paint the unreal and blissful picture that we want to believe in.

I have personal knowledge of a few cases that have outraged the modesty of men.

Whether it was a hand on the thigh in a DTC bus, or feeling a man up in a crowded metro. Imagine a scenario where a man ogles at the breasts of a woman and passes a comment on her. Now imagine it the other way. Will a woman passing a comment on a man’s butt or crotch draw the same disdain? If not, why?

Male victimization is not just a taboo subject, but is considered outrageous in existence. There are so many Bollywood movies when a man making a pass at another man is a part of the movie as a comical relief. Would it be funny if a man was trying to serenade a woman much against her wishes in a movie? No! But to me, even the former is not funny.

Protection is available under the Section 355 of the Indian Penal code which deals with assault or criminal force with intent to dishonor any person as also under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. There is so little known about this, and more importantly so little talked about, that seeking a retribution becomes difficult. There is a heavy focus on molestation & sexual crimes against women, while crimes against men are ignored in the same light. There are rare examples of movies or art forms that bring this issue to limelight, but the change has to begin at a much deep rooted level before it spreads. Molestation is an ugly reality and it does not discriminate, why do we?


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