Did you know about Digital Rape or are you looking for answers to your questions regarding the topic?
The term gives an illusion of events happening online in terms of digital abuse. It is often confused with defacing someone’s identity on a digital platform. People think sharing naked pictures or video’s on a digital platform without the consent of the owner is termed as Digital Rape.
Contrary to the mentioned words, digital rape does not involve any kind of gadgets like mobile phones, laptops, computers or social platforms.
Digital is derived from ‘digit’ which means numbers in our common language. However, the Latin roots suggest that ‘digital’ is derived from ‘digitus’ which means fingers and toes.
What is Digital Rape?
To put everything together, Digital Rape means sexually abusing someone using fingers or any other part of their body which is not a penis, and any foreign object.
Digital Rape Meaning Explained
Digital Rape is a term used to classify a certain case of rape. In the case of digital rape, the perpetrator uses his finger or fingers to violate and force the sexual act upon the victim. In simple terms, a person is accused of Digital rape when the perpetrator uses his/her finger or fingers to penetrate the vagina of the victim without her/his consent.
Although the term is gender neutral, rape victims are categorised into two sets which are major and minors.
The law states that major digital rapists will be tried under Sector 375 whereas minor digital rapists are booked under Section 375 and the POCSO Act.
What is Digital Rape Victim?
A digital rape victim meaning would be a person who suffered a penetration of other than the penis, like fingers or a foreign object in the private parts.
What does digitally penetrated mean, before the term was coined?
Rape is a very odious crime and this term was coined in order to protect young women from the imposition of simple words.
Though before 2013, our Supreme court didn’t have any law that provided justice to the victims of Digital rape. This was because there was no term such as Digital Rape before 2013.
We can understand this better by looking at the examples of rape incidents mentioned below:
Cases that clear the concept of digital rape
In order to understand the sensitivity of this subject, I have mentioned two cases that will help you understand digital sexual assault meaning and the real meaning of the term ‘digital rape’ clearly:
1. Two (2) years old digitally raped in Mumbai
In Mumbai, a 2-year-old girl was brought bleeding to the hospital. Upon examination, doctors found that her vagina was raptured, while there wasn’t any sign of sexual assault or rape.
Though, it was later found that her father was penetrating his daughter with his fingers. He was arrested but due to the loophole in the law, was not punished or charged under Section 376 of the IPC which deals with rape crimes.
2. Sixty (60) year old digitally raped in Delhi
In another incident which was occurred in Delhi, a 60 years old woman was sexually assaulted by an autorickshaw driver. He used an iron rod to penetrate his 60 years old passenger who was commuting to reach her relative’s wedding.
Again, the driver was arrested but wasn’t convicted under Section 376 of the IPC because the law did not cover it.
The loopholes in Section 376 of the IPC
The above-mentioned situations cried for help and voiced the various loopholes in Section 376 of the IPC that deals with rape crimes. The set of laws did not include digital rape – which basically involved a violation of a female’s dignity using fingers, foreign objects or any other part of the human body, as they were not considered a crime under any section.
But knowing that there are other ways that a man can use to violate a woman or child’s dignity, Supreme Court had to make some changes to their definition of rape. Keeping all the above cases and heinous instances of crime in mind, the definition of rape was extended in 2013.
What is the new meaning of rape?
According to this new definition, rape is considered an act of forcefully penetrating a woman’s vagina, mouth, anus or urethra by a penis, any other part of the body or any foreign object without her consent.
Reports claim 70% of times offender is someone you knew
In many reports, it has been made clear that 70% of the time, the person who offended the modesty of a woman or violated the dignity of a child, is someone who she knew personally. Usually, these crimes are committed by the people who are close to the victim like her cousin, close friend, uncle (other relatives), neighbours and in some shocking cases her father.
29% of the time the offender was someone whom the victim knew through their social circle like through their friends or work circle. Or someone they are meeting for the first time like a date set up by a friend or a dating app.
You must feel really strange knowing that only 1% of cases are registered in which the offender was a stranger.
Cases of digital rape where criminal was punished
Just because they are not violating her body with their penis, criminals try to digitally rape women and children. The government found it hard to treat such cases under the old rapist law of India. It is why the new changes to the definition of rape were made soon which guaranteed to offer proper protection to females against these barbaric acts of criminals.
After the modification of the definition of rape, law authorities have started incorporating strict punishments who commit digital rape which can be seen in the cases mentioned below:
1. Sixty-Five (65)-year-old man in Noida West sentenced to jail for Digital Rape
A 65-year-old man from Noida West was initially detained but not penalised or charged under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code for his acts which were changed after the implementation of the new definition of rape.
In Noida’s Salarpur town, a man named Akbar Ali lured a 3-year-old girl with toffees and later took advantage of her helpless situation when the time fits right. Since it was a digital rape case, he was initially off the hook.
However, he was convicted and sentenced on August 30, 2022under section 5(m)/6 of the POCSO Act.
2. Conductor sentenced to 20 years in prison for digitally raping four-year-old girl onboard school bus
On December 12, 2018, Times Now news published a report that explained a digital rape case where a school-going girl child was digitally raped by the conductor.
The report said, “In their complaint to the police, the girl’s parents alleged that the conductor sat next to the child on the school bus. He sexually assaulted her as the bus approached her residence in the city’s Sector 56 area. The matter came to light when the minor complained to her parents about pain in her thighs. This prompted her mother to consult a doctor.”
Once the doctor suggested that she might have been sexually abused, the girl told her parents all about her ordeal and an official police complaint was lodged at the Sector 56 police station.”
3. The conductor was sentenced to 20 years of jail along with a fine of Rs. 50,000.
University student sentenced to three years, seven months and three weeks’ jail time with a non-parole period of one year, for digitally raping an intoxicated friend
These cases are not just bound to India. Every day, there is a piece of new news related to the case of Digital rape. A university student was held for digitally raping a friend who was apparently intoxicated and wasn’t in a state to protest.
“Uni student jailed for digitally raping friend. This was done to show that women will get the full protection of the law regardless of intoxication.” The judge, however, did not hold the intoxicated state of the woman against her to prove that she was equally responsible in the crime. Instead, the culprit was jailed to show that women will have complete protection against criminals, no matter what state they are in.
4. Stanford student jailed for six months
This case was published on June 6, 2016. The Guardian published a report on, the “Stanford sexual assault case that included victim’s complete statement on how it felt to be raped.” This specific case had the statement of the victim in detail. The statement defined how horrific and heinous digital rape can be. It all comes down to the point that the dignity of a female can be violated even without being raped. And how digital rape can have the same effect as rape.
This news created headlines for many weeks. As many believed that the six-month jail wasn’t justified. And that the culprit should have been sentenced to a longer term. The case is closed but the criminal, who was remanded right after his sentencing, is required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
What is digital rape victim expectation for punishment?
The POCSO Act states that the offender will be punished with a jail term of at least five years. However, when the case comes under Section 376 of the POCSO Act, the jail time shall be extended from ten (10) years to life imprisonment.
It is done with the hope of punishing the culprits for every crime that they do to rip people off their dignity. The criminals should understand that every act done against people’s consent will leave a negative impression on their mind which shall stay there for a lifetime.
Apart from the accounts that are mentioned above, the internet is filled with the number of other digital rape cases. After the revision of the definition of rape in the section 375 and POSCO act, most of the cases now bring justice to the victim. And the offender has to spend a minimum of 5 years in jail and sometimes has to serve a lifetime prison sentence of 10 years which can be later extended as well.
Thankfully, the term digital rape has joined the definition of rape and now there are strict laws for criminals who think that digital rape is not raping at all.
As a woman, I think that irrespective of gender, making anyone uncomfortable with words or actions shall be a punishable offence. Though rape is a strong term but making someone uneasy at the workplace, public place, public transport or worse, their homes is one of the brutal things someone can do. So, strict actions should be taken against anyone who does it, irrespective of their gender.
I want you to share this article with your friends and family members, irrespective of gender, so that they know their rights as discussed in the Indian Penal Code.