In 2012, a 23-year old woman was brutally attacked and gang raped by six men on a moving bus on her way back from college. This barbarous act was met with a wave of backlash from many protesters calling for the reform of India’s current rape laws and system of prosecution for offenders. Up until its reform in the new year, rape by definition under section 375 of India’s Penal Code as ‘sexual intercourse with a woman and the absence of consent'(Sharma 2014). This proved extremely problematic for victims as the law did not include penetration with foreign objects, acts of oral sex or sodomy. Instead these acts reflect the deep misogyny ingrained in the indian culture as they are ‘criminalized under section 354 of the IPC, which deals with criminal assault on a woman with intent to outrage her modesty'(Sharma 2014).
India’s history of a deeply rooted patriarchal society paves way for a misogynist view of women in their culture by exploiting and perceiving them as objects which thus manifests into violence against women. Cases of sexual violence often go unreported as victims who come forward with allegations are often ignored or publicly shamed. In effort to reduce these incidents the Code of Criminal Procedure in 2013 has made it mandatory for a police officer to file sexual assault complaints and failure to do so may result in two years of imprisonment. Despite these codes, corruption takes over as many officials do not take the first step in filing these claims or often tell the victim’s family that they must compromise if the attacker comes from a powerful background.Victims are subject to degrading medical care following an incident such as rape where two fingers are inserted into the vagina to see whether she has engaged in sexual intercourse. Although this practice is slowly seeing a decline, it still persists in some areas and continues to be condemned by many medical professionals from around the world.
Reacting to the large number of widespread violent protests, the government issued harsher punishments for attackers and also reclassified many current laws surrounding the issue. Before the new law, an absence of physical abuse meant the act was consensual and would thus the attacker would not be prosecuted. In light of the new law it now broadens the law to state that the “absence of physical struggle does not equal consent”(BBC 2013).