CAN MEN ALSO BE SEXUALLY HARASSED? WHAT ARE THE LAWS AVAILABLE REGARDING THIS?
Crimes, in general, are against society. It never limits itself to any caste, gender, religion or territory. Sexual assault is also a heinous crime which can happen to anyone without considering the age of the victim, their sexual orientation or even gender. Sexual harassment can be defined as any unwelcome or inappropriate sexual gesture toward any person. It includes a wide range of actions from sexual abuse to demand a sexual favour in lieu of something.
Crime against women has always been a bigger problem. Most of the sexual offences take against women. Laws of several countries have enacted different provisions in a wider sense to deal with such heinous crime but there is no such satisfactory law for men. Lack of such laws for men does not mean that sexual offence cannot take place against men as said above, crime has no limit to any caste or gender; it can take place against any man.
Sexual assault on a male person may happen at any place whether public area like schools, public transport, colleges or it may also occur in their private space. But most of the offences of sexual assault on male happen at the workplace, mainly by his co-worker or boss. They may be assaulted in a different way which may include the demand for sexual favour, removing his clothes, touching his private parts without his permission, and many more. Another problem with sexual assault men is that they can be assaulted by both male and female. Many men have been raped even by their male friend. A person named John Kelly was raped by his male partner.1
SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF MAN AT WORKPLACE:
Sexual assaults at the workplace are becoming very common, which ultimately lead to resignation from a job leading to stress and financial crisis to the victim. As per the report of EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Act) in 2015, a total of nearly 6822 sexual harassment claims were filed with EEOC. Out of those 6822 claims, approximately 17.1 % of those cases were filled by men claiming that they had been sexually harassed2. However, the exact number of male victims could be much more but there is no exact data which can assure that how many men has been actually harassed.
Similarly, according to PEW research statistics 2014, 25% of women and 13% of men between the ages of 18-24 years have been harassed sexually via online mode3. In this patriarchal society, it may be believed that no man can be harassed by women. Men refuse to claim justice as they may feel embarrassed or because of the reason of being mocked by their colleague if the details of such assault will be leaked.
Workplace sexual harassment is defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in which it states that sexual harassment is that which affects the individual employment, his working performance and many more. The number of cases of sexual harassment on the male by any female or other male is increasing rapidly. Claims regarding sexual harassment of male are becoming more common, especially after 1998 in which United States Supreme Court held that men are protected from workplace sexual harassment under Title VII of Civil Right Act of 1964.
Several reports have been released by EEOC in which men have been subject to sexual assault. In one such report, two young men reported for sexual harassment at New Jersey grocery store. In this instant case, two young men started working as assistant manager at that grocery store in 1999. After a few days of their job, they quit the job one by one claiming the reason for being assaulted sexually. Their female boss has assaulted them by demanding for sexual favour and through other abusive tones. The first men were fired from his job, for not doing any favour to his boss while the latter also quit the job after spreading of fake news by his female boss regarding his affair with his boss.
LAWS AVAILABLE REGARDING SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF MEN
Sexual Harassment is considered as one of the most heinous crime. Offences of sexual harassment are a big social problem which needs to be penalized in every possible way. Seeing the graveness of such offence, the legislator has enacted several acts and sections to curb such offences against women. Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013, section 354, 375, 498A of IPC and many more have been enacted to safeguard the women. Justice Krishna Iyer has said, “A murderer kills the body but a rapist kills the soul.”4 Even after knowing the consequences of sexual assault, legislation has been failed to enact any such law which protects men from such offence. They do not provide any remedy to those males who might be harassed sexually. However, few other laws have been modified or enacted to provide some relief to children irrespective of their gender.
CIVIL RIGHT ACT:
This law was passed by the United States Congress in 1964 that outlaws discrimination based on race, colour, religion, sex etc. Title VII of the said Act prohibits any type of discrimination by employers. It also applies to discrimination based on sex. Using its provisos, the US Supreme Court held that men are protected from workplace sexual harassment under Title VII of the Civil Right Act.
This act seeks to provide for strict punishment to those who are engaged in a sexual crime against children. Punishment may include death penalty or imprisonment along with a fine in case of aggravated sexual assault to curb such offence. This act is gender-neutral as it does not differentiate between any boy or girl child. But only such acts are not enough to eliminate such grave offence.
The scopes of such acts are very limited. The civil right Act of United State applies mainly on workplace dealing with various objectives of civil right and labour law while POSCO deals with children only.
Article 14 of the Indian Constitution provides us with the right to equality before the law. But after analyzing the graveness of this offence, a question arises that does Article 14 really provides equal right before the law to both male and female? In my perspective, it does not seems so. There are cases of sexual assault against both male and female, then why the laws are for women only and not for males. Why a male cannot be provided justice if he was sexually assaulted, “just because he is a man”? Why there are no provisions to safeguard the rights of transgender? Seeing all these situations, it does not appear to fulfil the object of Article 14.
Similarly, Article 16 of Indian Constitution talks about equality of opportunity irrespective of gender but again there are several laws to safeguard women but no laws to safeguard the rights of men. The basic concern is that if Article 16 is providing equal opportunity of employment then it should also take concern for equal safeguard principle for both male and female equally.
Article 21 of Indian Constitution deals with the protection of life and personnel liberty and says that no person shall be deprived of his life or personnel liberty but it seems to be failed in case of justice which shall be provided to the male victim of sexual assault.
It is true that we often come to see news of sexual harassment in which a woman has been harassed or raped but now men are also facing similar offences though the numbers of such offences are lower than in comparison to offence against women, but what if the numbers are low. It often came to be heard that a male was harassed in college or mostly in prisons but due to lack of proper legislation and other social factors, these offences against remains unreported. Sexual assault of a man in prison is a big problem. In many cases, the person has been raped in prison which shows that we need laws to safeguard men. In the case of the American prison, a man was raped by another man who was also detained in the same prison.5 It is required to enact a law to curb such menace and the legislation should do consider it. It is the duty of the state as well as peoples to protect both men and women.
Sexual assault of man is no doubt an atrocious offence and thus Government need to concentrate on this growing menace before it takes any precarious shape. The scope of sexual harassment laws should be widened and a uniform law should be brought to safeguard the rights of people. Recommendation of Justice JS Verma committee should be considered again. The modesty of male should be recognized in statute books and needful provisions should be added in them to prevent sexual assault of a male. The laws dealing with sexual harassment should deal with every possible aspect as sexual harassment is as difficult to prove as it is to disprove.
This article is authored by Ashish Ranjan, Second-Year, B.A. LL.B(Hons.) student at Central University of South Bihar.
Also Read – An Analysis of Sexual Harassment of Women at Work Place in India