Corrective Rape: A naked reality

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I am proud of my nation, where marriage is considered as a pious relation, though wife is considered as a property of the husband; I am proud of my nation, wherein Rape inside the knot of marriage is not criminalized; I proud of my nation, where family members on one side wear morality and ethics of the society on their sleeve and on the other side, compel a teenage gay to have sex with her mother. We are still proud of our nation!

Corrective Rape: An Introduction

The term “Corrective rape” was coined in South Africa to denote rape wherein victim was targeted because of their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity to “turn” them homosexual. Initially, it was coined just to describe the sexual offences against the lesbians, but gay people are also being victimized.

Though the circumstances may be different, one thing that remains constant in such kinds of cases is the violent action of supposedly ‘teaching’ those who deviate from society’s patriarchal norm, a lesson.

South Africa is “witnessing a backlash of crimes targeted specifically at lesbian women, who are perceived as representing a direct threat to a male dominated society”; the most notable of the crimes against lesbian women is corrective rape. The perpetrators desire to show lesbians “how to be a real woman” and to attain the ‘goal’ indicating an attitude of hatred towards lesbian women. The ‘correction’ portion is seemed to be a motivational factor for the perpetrators to attain the so called ‘goal’, as they punish those who challenge dominant and patriarchal ideas of gender and sexuality. The evolution of a term like ‘corrective rape’ is precisely the product of well intentioned attempts at contextualization, attempts which, however well intentioned, replicated the inequalities of global knowledge production. In reality, corrective rape is used to refer to rapes which are accompanied by extraordinary forms of violence, torture and assault. Every rape is arguably corrective or punitive in nature, disabusing its victim of her belief in personal autonomy and subordinating her violently to the patriarchal dispensation of power, but corrective rapes are more intense in nature as it involves other forms of tortures also.

Victims of Corrective rape are not simply attacked for being homosexual; they are attacked, rather, for being homosexual men or homosexual women. Incidents of Corrective Rapes are not only Hate Crimes, but they are Gender Discriminatory Crimes; it is not only women, but Gay persons too also facing the brunt of this crime.

Corrective Rape and India: Moral & Ethics

If there is one Constitutional tenet that can be said to be underlying theme of the Indian Constitution, it is that of ‘inclusiveness’. This Court believes that Indian Constitutional reflects this value deeply ingrained in Indian society, nurtured over several generations. The inclusiveness that Indian society traditionally displayed, illiteracy in every aspect of life, is manifest in recognizing a role in society for everyone. Those perceived by the majority as ‘deviants’ or ‘different’ are not on that score excluded or ostracized.”

Homosexuality is not a disease or mental disorder, which can be cured or altered; it is just an expression of human sexuality; it is a sexual orientation, which is not unnatural. When we can’t convert a male into a female, how can we convert homosexuality as per the social norms? Mere public disapproval or public morality is not a sufficient basis for placing such restrictions on the enjoyment of fundamental rights. Only morality which matters is Constitutional morality. Constitution of India protects and promotes diversity and ensures an egalitarian society, where freedom is no longer a privilege. Criminalization of homosexuality runs counter to that Constitutional morality. Homosexuality is a matter of concern for the country of India, to combat it; the government has put LGBT laws into place that ban the presence of homosexuality. Currently the same sex relations are subject to section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which punishes ‘carnal intercourse against the nature’. On the one hand, a transgender was chosen as a principal of a college in West Bengal; on the other hand, LGBTs are being treated as perpetrators in the society. What kind of society we are living in, one side, we talk about morality, ethics and societal norms, and on the other side, although, rape is a major issue in India with attacks in a number of street protects with many calling for more protection, we face the shocking events, wherein family members forced a gay boy to have sex with his mother, in a bid to turn him straight. A lesbian girl is being raped by her own relative i.e. it is usually a cousin who’s roped in for this ‘project’, to teach her how to behave as a ‘real woman’. These phenomena are accepted by the society, wherein LGBTs are being sexually harassed in the name of maintaining social orders and norms called ‘Corrective Rape’.

Rape survivors do not come forward to report the cases, as they fear discrimination, especially the way Police will behave. There is more work to be done within field services in terms of sensitizing police towards issue of sexual violence, but it is even more important for civil society to address them. The issue of stigma doesn’t stem from the police service but from the larger community.

These kinds of cases are coming into limelight not because they are being reported, but because the victims want to flee their home.


Patriarchy is a power game; instead of changing the vampiric nature of patriarchal society, we try to change the victim. May be we must dress differently, may be change your attitude. As George Orwell said, “some are more equal than others”, which simplistically means no one is equal to another one. If one tries to convert other against the nature, it will result into disruption in the society.

It would be wonderful if no one were to be raped at all, especially, no persons were to be raped to ‘correct their sexual orientation’.

Though, part III of the Indian Constitution guarantees a set of fundamental rights ranging from Article 14, which provides for the right to equality before the law and equal protection under law, to Article 21, which guarantees right to life and personal liberty, if we can’t give them the equal status and rights  in the society, at least we can try not to interfere and harass their life, for that purpose, we need an immediate social and cultural re-socialization and normalization of homosexuality.

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