Sexual assault

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO): "Sexual violence is any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, or other act directed against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting. It includes rape, defined as the physically forced or otherwise coerced penetration of the vulva or anus with a penis, other body part or object." [1]

The Indian penal code has a far narrower definition of rape. According to Section 375, rape is "sexual intercourse by a man with a woman who is not his wife above age of 16 years, against her will or without her consent." Other types of rape are usually prosecuted under laws that carry less severe punishments, such as Section 354 regarding "criminal assault on a woman with intent to outrage her modesty" and Section 377 IPC, covering "carnal intercourse against the order of nature." Rape of a married woman by her husband is not recognized by any of the above laws.


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