In March 2017, a Female politician at Texas proposed law to fine men $100 for masturbating as ‘act against an unborn child’ unless they are doing it in a sanctioned session at a hospital or clinic. This bill included a mandatory waiting period before a vasectomy procedure or receiving a prescription for Viagra, as well as a “medically-unnecessary digital rectal exam” A Democratic, Jessica Farrar, curated and introduced “Man’s Right to Know Act” for highlighting the state of Women’s through healthcare legislation targeted to affect them.
Though the world has changed a lot from 2017, and the point of view in society, no doubt has improved and developed. However, it takes not more than common sense that the masturbation and sex is still a sin and something not to be talked about, and the healthcare laws revolving around women, follow the same stigma.
In the context of India, this news of “Man’s Right to Know Act” was unexisting, as we do not talk about Masturbation (while we feel no sorry to do it) and we do curse women opting for abortion and have 50-year-old legislation that doesn’t cope up with the society.
Masturbation Laws in India
Though masturbation at your personal space is not prohibited by law, this society needs you not to talk about it in general. Visiting a doctor to check if we cross the frequency or to find out a medical solution that may arise due to Masturbation is still a stigma, and law has no answer to it.
But this is not where we reach the limit. Public Masturbation is not even listed as a crime in the Indian Penal Code or any other Indian Law, while several countries have declared it illegal. Though, the case can be file under Section 354 IPC, i.e. “assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty,” Section 509 IPC, i.e. “gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman,” and/or Section 268 IPC, which handles cases of public nuisance.
A friend of mine, residing at Indore, told me about one such incident while walking down the road. She was with her sister, on the road at 8 PM near a residential area, and a man in the corner pulled down his pants to show them his penis and started masturbating. Unfortunately, this event was never reported, and he had nothing to pay for it.
And it doesn’t just happen with one or two girls, at a decorated place like Malls but with many females in crowded areas like buses. Do you remember when a girl recorded the man on the seat next to her masturbating and asking her to calm down in February 2018?
Btw. It is quite surprising that we don’t talk about Masturbation by women. Isn’t it surprising?
Masturbation Law Around the globe
Do you know that a 65-year-old man was cleared of his charge even when he was found masturbating openly on a Stockholm beach. The Swedish court ruled out that his activities were not directed towards a specific person. The judgment may come as a surprise, but when it comes to penal codes and masturbation, the international legal system looks like a patchwork quilt.
Article 391 of national law provided for the penalty for masturbation in Indonesia is a decapitation i.e., the maximum sentence of 32 months imprisonment. A formal query made to the secretary of information at the Indonesian embassy revealed that according to Article 281 of national law, the maximum sentence is 32 months’ imprisonment.
UK: 14 days in Prison
An 1885 legal reform known as the Labouchere Amendment had an unforeseen loophole that suddenly made masturbation (as well as fellatio) legal in the United Kingdom. However, it is not the only law that covers exposure, and public Masturbation remains illegal and prohibited, thankfully, because of having different laws. Section 28 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 which states it is an offense for anyone to “wilfully and indecently” expose his “person” in a street or public place to the obstruction, annoyance or danger of residents or passengers (NB references to a “person” mean “penis”) makes it illegal. The overall penalty incurred is dependent on a range of circumstantial factors.
Brazil: special circumstances
Can you believe that Brazilian women were legally entitled to a 15-minute break every two hours to masturbate? She took her employers to court with the doctor’s evidence about her need to masturbate 47 times.
Saudi Arabia: 3 years and 300 lashes
Mere talking about masturbation is a crime in Saudi Arabia. For declaring that masturbation (as well as homosexuality, smoking, and music) were permissible under Islam, a general court sentenced a teacher to three years in prison and 300 lashes in Saudi Arabia.
Alabama: illegal if it is artificial
In the US, laws vary from state to state. In 2009, the supreme court of Alabama outlawed the sale of “any device designed … primarily for the stimulation of human genital organs” to target sales of masturbation machines.
However, there is a need to normalize the masturbation in a personal space, and at the special circumstance (like it has in Brazil), it is also a need of the hour to address the issue of Public Masturbation. If the issue of public masturbation continues to be silently accepted, and deliberately ignored, then the message we send to perpetrators is that they are doing nothing wrong.
PS: The Abortion laws will be dealt with in another blog since it needs critical analysis.