by Ridhima Sharma


Under the independent and sovereign India, legislators have incessantly put hard endeavors to revamp the legal structure enormously and because of their efforts, plethora of outdated laws and regulations have been restructured according to the need of hour. Despite of their continuous practices, there are still some facets which required to be concerned and one of them is the acquaintance rape which, though being the common term, yet not so popular among the folks.

It is the one of the kind of the brutal act of rape under which the perpetrator is usually known to the victim and probably, he is the trustee of the sufferer and he is liable to be convicted for breach of trust apart from rape conviction. In most of the times, perpetrator seems to be the boyfriend, uncle, classmate, co-worker, medical doctor, spouse, counselor, employer and many more alike. In addition to this, there are many kinds of acquaintance rape which comprises of date rape, marital rape, prison rape, gang rape, child rape, statutory rape, war rape and corrective rape; which are needed to be positioned in the columns of various rape legislations.


Studies distinguishing between a stranger rape and those by a person known to the victim go back to the 1950s, when a study examining American police rape files from 1958 & 1960 found, that half of them were alleged to have been committed by men who were known to the victim. Further, in 1988, American Feminist writer Robin Warshaw published “I Never Called It Rape”, the first major book on acquaintance rape. Moving forward, in 1979, a Massachusetts man rape case was first rape case in the history of world. Under this, the man forcefully has sex with his wife who wanted to get divorce from him because of his absurd behavior. And the acquaintance rape system started from 1979 and still has not stopped. Therefore, the acquaintance rape has been discovered so earlier but still it has not recognized by the impetuous legislators who have been ignorant of these grey areas.


Unfortunately, a woman in our country belongs to a class or group of society which are in disadvantaged position on account of several social barriers and impediments and have therefore, been victims of tyranny at the hands of men with whom they, unfortunately, under constitution enjoy equal status[1].A rape happens because attacker chooses to force sex on the victim. There are myriad of reasons; he may want to control, punish or humiliate the victim; may believe that he is entitled to sex regardless of what she wants. Moreover, research studies reveal that men who rape don’t always consider forced sex, to be a crime[2]. The problem with groups who deal with rape is that they try to educate women about how to defend themselves, what need to be done is teaching men not to rape[3]. Thus, resultantly, to eradicate this evil from the minds of old-fashioned masses, authorities ought to arouse the feelings of respect & dignity over the dominance of misogynistic people by the strict enforcement of regulations apart from moral values.


To begin with, we must remember that a rapist not only violates the victim’s privacy and personal integrity but, inevitably causes serious psychological as well as physical harm in the process[4]. Moreover, in cases of acquaintance rape, the victims' trust is someone she knows has been destroyed. Adding to this, the victims may suffer sleeplessness, nightmares, poor-concentration, anxiety, loss of appetite or over eating, loss of self- confidence, stress- related illness and much more alike[5]. Apart form this, the other physical effects may include sexually -transmitted diseases, pregnancy, bleeding and later discomfort during sex[6]. Furthermore, the trauma attached as an aftermath of such acts not only victimizes the immediate sufferer but also the offender, so its high time when men folk need to gender sensitized from the very beginning to treat women not as sex objects but as an equal human being; and the emboldening of law should act as a deterrent to the prevalence of flouting the law with impunity[7].


The acquaintance rape is yet another common form of rape which has been at alarming rate and is needed to be curb immediately. There are countless cases regarding the same which has been surging up diurnally, which has left the humanity into dreadful stupefaction. Some of the usual instances of acquaintance rape are like the sexual assault of a 16-year-old daughter for 5 months by her 40- year-old father, resident of Mauli Jagran and the police arrested him under the POCSO Act[8]. Apart from these incidents, a 40-year-old Indian man allegedly drugged his 19-year-old daughter with sleeping pills, and then raped her, in Bengaluru. Reports stated that the father gave his daughter sleeping pills instead of medicines for cold and then raped the teen at their home in Haralur, Bengaluru[9].

Moving forward, in Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug V. Union Of India[10], a 25-year-old nurse Aruna was brutally raped by her colleague when she was menstruating. The rapist crossed every line of humanity. He strangled her with a metal chain and left her to die. She was in vegetative state for more than 40 years. In another like case of Dhananjay Chateerjee V. State of West Bengal[11], a 14-year-old school girl, hetal was brutally raped and killed by the watchman. Dhananjay even raped her dead body after killing her. Therefore, after considering the above cases, it can be asserted that trust bearers when seemed to be trust breakers, then the penalties needed to be more barbarous towards the offenders, so that nobody dare to commit the act for the second time and in the lieu of the same, the legalists must endeavour to criminalise the acquaintance rape sanctioned with restrictive penalties.


It is credible that the Indian legislation has progressed to much extent by the needful amendments enforced accordingly. Some of the prominent laws which protect the rape victims are described under sections 228-A[12], 354[13], 375[14], 376 (2)clauses (a) to (g)[15] of Indian Penal Code,1860. Apart from this, sections 164A[16], 327[17] of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, also provides the protection to the sexually abused woman. Additionally, there are few major amendments also executed by the law-makers timely according to the circumstances. Some of them are, Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1983, Indian Evidence Amendment Act of 2002, Code of Criminal Procedure Amendment Act of 2005& 2008.

Therefore, as aforementioned, there are countless provisions which safeguards the rape victims' rights and interests but there is not even single legislation which legitimizes the acquaintance rape sufferers' rights. This is the biggest lacuna left behind to be reformed by the jurists and legalists in the updated legal regulations. Furthermore, the liability must be fixed according to the proximity of relation between the assaulter and sufferer which necessitated to be the prime focus of the reformation and development.


According to Thomson Reuters Foundation, almost 90% of rapes in India in 2014 were committed by the people known to the victims such as relatives, neighbors and employers. Moreover, the NCRB[18] data showed that 86% of the rapes had been committed by close family members such as fathers, brothers and uncles, as well as neighbors, employers, co-workers and fiends. Adding to it, BBC[19] study also found that just 9% of perpetrators were strangers to victim, whereas 24% were assaulted by a family members, 44% were assaulted by 'another known person' and 23% of woman assaulted by a partner or ex-partner. Though, the Delhi-rape[20] incident has surged up the anti-rape campaigns; but still the figures are gross underestimates, as many victims reluctant to report rape incidents. Thus, resultantly, the acquaintance rape is strictly needed to be recognized in the columns of legal reformative amendments as well as remodelled structure.


To epitomize, there is emergent need to enhance the scope of the legislative provisions and the parliamentarians as well as reformers required to embark the discussions on this moot point which needed the immediate considerations from the all spheres. When the rape is committed by the trustees, then their cases to be scrutinized by the special bodies established for the enforcement of penalties regarding the acquaintance rapes and moreover, the new clause to be essentially emerged under section-376[21] regarding the acquaintance rape provision under which the restrictive punishments and death penalties to be imposed on the convicted persons. Therefore, the authorities should put the hard endeavours to inculcate the deterrence in the evil minds so that the women will be considered as the heroine of her life and not the victim[22].

[1] Justice Saghir Ahmed's Observations [2] National Criminal Justice Reference Service report [3] Kurt cobain, American singer song-writer and musician [4] State of Punjab V. Gurmeet Singh 1996 Crlj 172 [5] National Criminal Justice Reference Service report. [6] Counselling and Student Development Centre report [7] Ramher V. State, criminal appeal No. 846/2010 [8] Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences Act,2012 [9] [10] Writ petition (Criminal) No. 115 of 2008 [11] 1994 SCR(1) 37, 1994 SCC (2) 220 [12] Disclosure of identity of the victims in certain cases. [13] Assault or criminal force to women with intent to outrage the modesty. [14] Definition of rape [15] Punishment for rape and other offences included [16] Medical examination of victim of rape. [17] Provisions regarding the Court to be open [18] National Crime Records Bureau [19] British Broadcasting Corporation [20] Mukesh and Anr V. State for Nct of Delhi and ors on 5th May, 2017 [21] Punishment for rape and other offences included [22] Nora Ephron, American Journalist and writer & filmmaker

Disclaimer : The opinions expressed by the author are for informational purposes only and and is made in their personal capacity and does not, in any way or manner, reflect the views of The Legal Outlook. Nothing herein shall deemed constitute legal advice.

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