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Explained: What Is Digital Rape? How Can Offenders Be Prosecuted Under It?

WhatsApp Image 2022 08 31 at 10.16.19 AM

The security of women and minor girls has gone haywire in the country after several cases of sexual offense and assault come to light day by day. Whether it be a 70-year-old woman or a two-month-old newborn, nobody has escaped the wrath and trauma of sexual offenses.

What Is Sexual Assault?

In this digital age, many would wonder whether “digital rape” is a form of cybercrime or a type of sexual offense over digital screens. Well, to break the myth, digital rape has nothing to do with the internet.
Digital rape refers to forceful penetration of fingers and toes without consent. The term was recognized by Indian law and order after the horrific and gruesome Nirbhaya rape case. The word ‘digit’ in English means toes, fingers, and thumbs, thus, justifying the meaning behind the term.

Before 2013, India did not have any laws criminalizing digital rape. At most, it was comprehended as a form of molestation. The offense has now been acknowledged under a separate section of the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act (POCSO). Moreover, the sections about crime are Sections 375 and 376.

The offender can be booked for 5 years or even up to ten years or life imprisonment.
In the last few years, crimes classified as digital rape have been committed consistently. For instance, the Surajpur district and sessions court convicted a 65-year-old man for committing digital rape against a three-and-a-half-year-old girl in Salarpur village under the Noida section 39 police station in Uttar Pradesh.

Simultaneously, a 60-year-old woman was digitally raped by an auto driver in Delhi. The convicted used an iron rod to penetrate her inside his vehicle. Even though the offender was arrested he was not convicted under Section 375 and Section 376 of IPC.

As crimes against women become ghastlier, the critical question remains whether the law is well-equipped to deal with such offenders. It is sufficient to criminalize an offense but not ensure the appropriate prosecution of offenders?

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