’Sexual assault’ to replace ’rape’ in IPC

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NEW DELHI, 16 March 2010: The Government is working on to replace the word "rape" from Indian Penal Code with "sexual assault" to broaden the ambit of crimes covered under the sections and make the provisions gender-neutral.

The Home Ministry is working on a draft bill which will replace the word ’rape’ from nearly 150-year-old Indian Penal Code with ’sexual assault’ in order to broaden the ambit of crimes covered, official sources said.

As per section 375 of IPC, penetration is sufficient to constitute the sexual intercourse necessary to the offence of rape but with the proposed replacements coming in, the sexual assault will also cover crimes like sodomy, fingering, insertion of foreign object and other similar offences which do not come under present definition of rape, sources said.

The proposal will also make "sexual assault" gender neutral which implies that relevant sections of IPC can be slapped on accused of any gender who has committed the crime, they said.

The provisions can be imposed on sexual crimes inflicted on women, men and children thus broadening the reach.

The sources said the move is seen as a way to harmonise the provisions of law to prevent sexual crimes among homosexuals with homosexuality being decriminalised by a Delhi High Court order last year. The Home Ministry has sought the views of Law Ministry on the proposed bill to give it a final shape.

According to the latest data by the Ministry of Home Affairs, cases of child rape continue to rise as a total of 4,721 cases were registered during 2006, 5,045 in 2007 and 5,446 in 2008 across the country.

The data also indicated that over two lakh women were victims of sexual crimes in the country during the period 2006-2008. On an average, about 191 women every day were either victims of rape, sexual harassment or molestation in three years from 2006.


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