Digital Rape: A Dark Side Of Society

When we hear about the word digital the first thing that comes to our mind is something related to technology or cyber things. When any crime is said to be committed as digital crime it is assumed to be related to cybercrime. But that is not the case here.
The term digital rape doesn’t means sexual offence committed through any electronic media or virtual mode or use of any technology. Whereas, it refers to penetration of any body parts of the abuser other than penis such as toes and fingers. The digital rape was not criminalized or regarded as a rape priroly. It became an offense after the 2012 amendment in laws related to sexual offenses. It is a gender neutral offense and is applicable to all irrespective of gender, sex to both abuser and victim.

What is Digital Rape?
The digital rape is defined as penetration of toes, thumb and finger without the victims consent. Rape refers to nonconsesual penetration or sexual abuse. Rape is froced sexual abuse or penetration either vaginal, anal or oral. The digital rape has nothing to do with cyber crime. The term digit in English means toes and fingers. Therefore, digital rape is forced act of inserting fingers or toes or in victims vagina, urethra or anus. The penetration need not be done by the body part of the abuser but can also be committed through inserting objects such as an iron rod. The judicial system is struggling to identify different type of sexual assault and evolutions of form of sexual crime. Earlier this offense was not regarded as rape but molestation but by criminal amendment of 2013 added this offense under perview of section
376 and POCSO Act. The rape victims can be classified as major and minor.

The digital rape was criminalized and consider as rape after the nirbhaya rape case 2012. Before it was consider as molestation and not rape. After the Criminal Amendment Act 2013 it was classified as rape and introduced under section 375 IPC and section 3 (b) of Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO Act). The rapists are classified as minor rapists and major rapists.

2 Legal Provisions:
The offence of digital rape was added to IPC after Criminal Amendment Act 2013. With the amendment digital rape was included under Indian Penal Code. It is gender neutral but in India it is only limited to females. Section 375, 376 and Section 3 of POCSO act deals with provision regarding digital rape.
The minor rapists are punished under both IPC as well as POCSo but POCSO charges are not applied in case of major rapists. As per Section 3 of the POCSO Act, ‘Any person who tries to insert an object or body part into a child’s vagina, urethra, or anus, or who forces a child to do it with him or another person, is considered as penetrative sexual assault.
The punishment of digital rape ranges from imprisonment of five year to life imprisonment along with penalty. If the case is tried under POCSO the offender is sentenced for imprisonment of five years and penalty. But if the case falls under Section 376 of IPC the criminal sentence can be increased upto 10 years and even life imprisonment.
While Section 3 defines “penetrative sexual assault,” Section 5 of the “POCSO Act” defines “aggravated penetrative sexual assault” as “the commission of a sexual offense on a child under 12 years of age.”
According to Section 6 of POCSO Act “”People convicted of aggravated sexual assault face a minimum of 20 years in prison with the possibility of life in prison, as well as a fine or with the possibility of death.”

Current Cases:

  1. In May 2022, an 81-year-old sketch artist was arrested in Noida for the alleged ‘digital rape’ of a 17-year-old girl for over seven years. Police said the suspect was living with the minor victim as her guardian.
  2. An auto-rickshaw driver used an iron rod to penetrate a 60-year-old passenger. Again, the driver was arrested for digital rape but not convicted under the IPC.
  3. Akbar Ali, a man from Noida in Uttar Pradesh’s Salarpur district, was found guilty of luring a 3 year old girl with toffee and then taking advantage of her vulnerable situation when the moment came. Because it was a case of digital rape, he was out of jail for a while. But then, on August 30th, 2022, he was found guilty under Section 5(m) to (6) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. 13
  1. In a case of digital rape, a girl child was sexually assaulted by a conductor on a school bus in the city’s Sector 56 area, according to a report by Times Now news. The girl’s parents filed a complaint with the police, claiming that the conductor had sat next to her on the bus and sexually assaulted her. The incident came to light after the minor
    complained of pain in her legs, prompting her mother to take her to a doctor. After the doctor’s opinion that she had been sexually assaulted, the minor told her parents about the incident and filed an official complaint with the police. 2
  2. Conclusion:
    In the wake of the Nirbhaya incident, there was a pressing need to modify India’s rape laws. Prior to 2013, digital rape had not been included in the definition of rape; however, following a number of serious rape cases, the Supreme Court was forced to make modifications to the definition of rape, as it became apparent that there were
    other methods that a man could use to violate the dignity of a woman or child. As a result, the Supreme Court extended the definition of rape in 2013, and now defines it as the act of forcing a person to enter a woman’s vaginal, oral, anal, or urethral area with a penis, foreign object, or other object.

● what is digital rape? Laws & Punishment

Submitted by: Bhavika Makhija
Institute: Indore Institute of Law

1 accessed on 10-8-23 at 9:37 am
2 accessed on 10-8-23 at 9:51 am

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