ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Delhi Rape Case among Others

Violation of Bodily Integrity

The substantive law in India which conceptualises rape as "sexual intercourse without consent" is limited in its understanding of what a sex act is and sees rape as a crime of non-consensual sex only. However sexual assault is as much a crime of violation of bodily integrity and causing of grave physical harm as it is about sex. Its victims could be male, female or transgenders.

We had fed the heart on fantasies,
The heart’s grown brutal from the fare,
More substance in our enmities
Than in our love;
    – W B Yeats, The Stare’s Nest by My Window

The brutal sexual assault on the young woman in Delhi on 16 December 2012 shocked the nation primarily because of the escalating levels of violence with which it was accompanied. To all right-thinking people the question was as to whether it presaged the birth of a new world without any moral and ethical limits? On the other hand did it make sense to look for a history of this form of brutal gang rape and see this assault as not simply a sui generis incident but rather one which is located within a broader history of sexual violence? In short, does this form of brutal gang rape which includes the use of iron rods as an instrument of penetration have a history?

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