Understanding Bestiality Or Zoophilia

Sec 377 of IPC, 1860 deals with the provision of Unnatural Offences, which includes the offences of;

  • Sodomy – anal intercourse or carnal or oral sex by a man with any woman or a man or any animal, which may be heterosexual or homosexual in nature.
  •  Bestiality- any man or a woman having sexual intercourse with any animal.

It has been explained that for constituting carnal intercourse, as mentioned in these offences, mere penetration is sufficient. In such offences of unnatural sex, presence of ‘consent’, unlike in the offence of rape, becomes immaterial and cannot be treated as a defence to this charge, and the person giving consent shall equally be treated as an abettor.

Homosexuality that had been a part of this section as an offence of unnatural sex for years was struck down on September 6, 2018, in the case, Navtej Singh Johar vs Union Of India Ministry Of Law And Justice[1], where, Supreme Court decriminalised homosexuality in India, by declaring Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, as unconstitutional regarding consensual homosexual sex between adults.

The person found guilty, committing such offences, shall be liable to a punishment of life imprisonment or imprisonment for a term extending up to 10 years, along with a fine. 

Offence of Bestiality

As per Sec 3777 of IPC, the offence bestiality has been defined as,” sexual intercourse by any woman or any man, being carried out in any way with any animal.[2] For holding a person liable for this offence under the said section, it is necessary to prove that;

  • The carnal intercourse with any man, woman or an animal, has been done by the accused;
  • This act done, is against the order of nature;
  • The act was voluntarily done by the accused;
  • There should be proof of penetration.

In case,  Norshiwan Irani[3], it was said that for these offences to be made punishable under section 377, it is important that penetration, no matter how little it was, must be strictly proved.

The term zoophilia, which is often used synonymously with bestiality, actually means, “Attainment of any sexual arousal or gratification by coming in contact with beasts (animals).

Zoophilia is a sexual perversion which also causes various health problems and ‘ zoonoses’, i.e.  The diseases which are transmitted to humans from animals, most of which, are transmitted during such sexual intercourse.

Bestiality is considered to be cruelty towards animals. A human, sexually, getting involved with an animal causes more injury to the animal than when they exercise natural sex. The act of human penetration can cause significant damage to the internal organs of such an animal due to its disproportionate size. In most of the cases, the injuries and exhaustion caused to the animal lead to its brutal death.

In case,  Khanu v Emperor [4], it was held that “the natural object of carnal intercourse is that there should be the possibility of conception of human beings, which in the case of bestiality or carnal intercourse is impossible.”

Incidents in India

In recent years, the cases of animal rape by humans, have reserved their places in the daily newspapers, and it continues to grow. It has started to look like the prevalent Indian laws are no longer effective in controlling this unnatural offence against animals. Most of these incidents go unreported and are not even presented for investigation. Even the cases which make it to the headlines are never recorded as proper cases. It’s shocking for researchers to observe that hardly any cases, related to bestiality, dealt by Indian judiciary, are available on any of the research platforms for further and deeper studies.

In 2018, on July 25, a horrifying crime took place in a village of Haryana, when 8 intoxicated men on that evening, brutally raped a 50 weeks pregnant goat. After this brutal and intolerable incident, the injured animal couldn’t survive and after a few hours. An FIR was filed by the owner of the animal, who was also an eyewitness of this crime. Consequently,  the accused were booked under  Section 377 (unnatural offences) and Section 429 (mischief by killing or maiming cattle) of IPC. Various sections of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act were also imposed. Till date, no updates can be found regarding the further investigations done on men who absconded after the crime.[5]

On August 22, 2019, a man was arrested in Navi Mumbai who had allegedly raped a female stray dog in Kharagar. An FIR was filed in the local police station by an animal activist with the help pf PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals ).[6]

On January 1, 2020, two people were arrested by Andra police, on the charges of bestiality under sec 377 of IPC. The farm labourer and his brother were accused of brutally raping 4 cows in a dairy farm, under the influence of liquor on the day of this incident. The owner of the dairy farm found the victimized animals in a horrific condition, unable to move, and thereby lodged the complaint. On January 5, the two accused were presented in the local court and were sent to remand.[7]

Further, in 2020, on March 12, a worker named, Mahesh, raped a calf of a cow, who was just 2 months old. The incident was reported by an animal activist volunteer, and it is said that the animal was being assaulted for the last 4 days. Narayanguda police, on viewing the CCTV recording as evidence, arrested Mahesh under the purview of sec 377 of IPC.

Many such horrific stories continue to exist in India, where innocent animals are cruel, tortured and raped by human beings.

Conclusion

Psychologist and Forensic Science Unit of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation often explained the direct link of hurting an animal with hurting a human by a person. The abusive partners of domestic violence victims and many serial killers have shown the signs of animal cruelty in the past before actually, implementing abusive force on humans.

Hence, criminalisation of bestiality is imperative, not only to maintain order in the society but also to keep violent psychotic behaviour of humans within a control, preventing possibilities of such brutal acts that can take place in near future.  However, the cases of animals being raped are on a consistent rise and it has become necessary for Indian legislation to come up with more stringent laws to deal with such offences.  NGOs and activists for Prevention of animal cruelty, who keep spreading awareness among the masses and take charge for standing up for their justice, continue to play a vital role in the society.


[1] AIR 2018 SC 4321

[2] R v. Ford, [1978] All ER 1129

[3] 1935 Cr LJ 718

[4] AIR 1925 Sind 286

[5] https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/pregnant-goat-dies-after-being-gang-raped-by-8-men-in-haryana/articleshow/65184376.cms

[6] https://www.thequint.com/news/india/man-arrested-for-allegedly-raping-female-dog-in-navi-mumba

[7] https://www.newindianexpress.com/states/andhra-pradesh/2020/jan/08/two-arrested-for-raping-cows-at-vnagaram-farm-2086702.html

Shreya Bhatnagar from Delhi Metropolitan Education, GGSIPU

“An Artist with a Feather in a Black Coat.”

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