Animal rights activists in India are concerned with a new Indian Code of Justice as it seems to decriminalise some types of animal abuse that were previously banned. The old Indian Penal Code (IPC), in its Section 377, punished sexual violence against animals, but the new law passed in December 2023, the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS), does not.
Section 377 of the IPC states, “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with [imprisonment for life], or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.” However, the BNS replaced the IPC after it was passed by both houses of Parliament and received presidential assent on 25th December 2023, so it seems that this offence has been overlooked.
Campaigners are now writing to Shri Amit Shah, Minister of Home Affairs since 2019, asking him to use his power to protect animals by amending the BNS to ensure a relevant provision is included against the sexual abuse of animals, as has been recommended by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs (PSCOHA).
According to PETA India, in 2021, the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations released a report revealing that in the decade prior, nearly 500,000 animals had been victims of crimes and that many had been subjected to sexual violence. Previously, a Voice of Stray Dogs report calculated that the sexual abuse of animals was often underreported but likely committed at a similar rate as human rape cases. For a long time, activists and scholars have been arguing about the link between animal abuse and the abuse of humans. For instance, Ameerul Islam, who was convicted of raping and murdering Kerala law student Jisha in India, had a history of raping and killing dogs and goats.
PETA has a petition people can sign to urgently lobby the Indian government about this issue.