Forensic Science

Sexual Offences, Sexual Violence, & Sexual Assault : Definitions, & Medico-Legal Aspects

Sexual Offences, Sexual Violence, & Sexual assault : Definitions, Classification, Types & Medico-Legal Aspects


  • Sexual offences are invariably physical acts by a person with another person or animal, either executed or attempted in the furtherance of getting sexual gratification.
  • Sexual violence encompasses any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed against a person’s sexuality, using coercion, by any person
    regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work (WHO).
  • Sexual assault, a form of sexual violence, is often used synonymously with rape.

Classification of sexual offences

Natural Unnatural Sexual perversions (Sexual deviations) Other sex-linked offences
Rape Rape Rape Indecent assault
Incest Sodomy Troilism Sexual harassment
Adultery Tribadism/lesbianism Sadism Stalking
Bestiality Masochism
Buccal or oral coitus Fetishism
Transvestic fetishism/Eonism/Transvestism

Sexual Offences: Definitions, & Medico-Legal Aspects

1. Rape: Rape is an unlawful sexual intercourse by a man with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the six descriptions defined under Sec. 375 IPC.

Medicolegal aspect on Rape

  • Rape and resistance
  • Raping a woman in deep sleep
  • Anaesthesia and rape charges
  • Rape by false impersonation (fraud)
  • Rape by misrepresented facts
  • Death during sexual intercourse
  • Death following rape

2. Incest: Sexual offence wherein sexual intercourse is practiced by a man with a woman who is closely related to him by blood or by marriage (prohibited degrees of relationship), e.g. a daughter, grand-daughter, sister, stepsister or aunt.

Medico-legal Aspects

  • Progression of genetic defects arising from mating of close relations.
  • This is not punishable in India, unless it amounts to rape.

3. Adultery: Voluntary sexual intercourse by men or women with someone who is not his/her legally wedded spouse.

Legal Aspects

  • If proven, adultery is a valid ground for divorce and nullity of marriage

4. Sodomy (Anal Intercourse, Buggary): It is the anal intercourse performed by a male with another male/female (homosexual or heterosexual sodomy). In case of homosexual sodomy, habitual passive agents are called fairies, gays or queens, hijras (castrated males) and zenanas (male transvestites).

Medico-legal Aspects

  • In India, sodomy is punishable. Both active and passive partners are guilty of the offence under Sec. 377 IPC, even if the act has been committed with consent.
  • In certain western countries it is not so, which has even led to male marriage (gay wedding)
  • AIDS is suspected to have commenced as a consequence of practice of sodomy.
  • Marriage contract gives implied consent for sexual intercourse per vaginum, not per anum. Under Sec. 13 of Hindu Marriage Act, conviction for natural or unnatural sexual act is a valid ground for divorce.

5. Tribadism (Lesbianism, Female Homosexuality, Lesbian Love): It is female homosexuality in which two women by mutual acts of sexual indulgence, by mutual genital manipulations manually with fingers, lips or extragenital mechanical devices—sex toys achieve sexual gratification.

Medicolegal Importance

  • Punishable if done by force
  • Punishable if practiced in public places.
  • Suicidal or homicidal tendencies common among lesbianistic girls due to “morbid jealousy” whenever one of the partners gets married.
  • Failure of marriage and domestic life certainly occurs in those who are married.

6. Bestiality (Zoophilia): It is sexual gratification by having sexual intercourse with animal, either vaginal, anal or oral.

Medicolegal Importance

  • Punishable if guilty by medicolegal examination of accused.

7. Buccal Coitus (Sin of Gomorrah, Coitus Per Oris, Fellatio, Cunnilingus): Sexual gratification by penile or vaginal oral sexual intercourse, and can be performed by both males and females.

Medicolegal Importance

  • Punishable if done by force
  • Punishable if done in public with a consenting partner
  • Death of a victim especially a child, due to accidental respiratory tract obstruction by the ejaculating bouts of semen leading to mechanical asphyxia.
  • In India, under the Hindu Marriage Act, insistence on buccal coitus, if it is non-consensual and repetitive, constitutes a valid ground for divorce.

8. Sadism (Algolagnia): It is a sexual perversion wherein person gets sexual gratification by infliction of pain or physical cruelty, like beating, biting, whipping, cigarette burns or ill-treating the partner.

  • In extreme cases even a murder may be committed to derive sexual gratification. This is called lust murder.

9. Masochism (Passive Algolagnia, Reverse of sadism): A rarer sexual perversion, wherein sexual gratification is obtained only when they receive painful stimulus from opposite partner i.e. on being tortured by the sex partner.

10. Fetishism: Here the individual gets sexual excitement and gratification by merely seeing or feeling of female body parts, certain articles belonging to a woman, such as a sari, footwear, stockings, undergarments, hankies, hairpins, etc.

11. Transvestic Fetishism (Eonism, Transvestism): It is a disorder characterized by recurrent, intense, sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges or behaviors involving cross-dressing i.e. sexual gratification is achieved by wearing the dress of the opposite sex.

  • Cisvestism: It is a disorder characterized by obtaining sexual pleasure from dressing up in clothes typical of one’s own sex but inappropriate to the individual’s position or status, e.g. biker’s ‘leathers’ or cowboy’s outfit.

12. Exhibitionism: The individual gets the sexual pleasure by exposing private parts in public or in front of a opposite sex individual, sometimes performing masturbation.

13. Sadomasochism (Bondage): It is a combined form of sadism and masochism in the same individual.

14. Necrophagia: Sexual perversion wherein person gets sexual gratification by tearing out the genitals or other parts like breasts, buttocks, etc. of his partner after her death by his teeth and may virtually eat them raw.

15. Necrophilia: A desire of obtaining sexual gratification by performing sexual intercourse with a cadaver of opposite sex.

16. Voyeurism (Peeping Tom, Scotophilia): Sexual perversion wherein person achieve sexual gratification by secretly watching others getting undressed, taking bath, or performing sexual intercourse, etc.

17. Troilism: It is an extreme degree of voyeurism wherein a perverted husband gets sexual gratification by watching his own wife performing, sexual intercourse with another man.

18. Masturbation (Onanism): Deliberate self-stimulation comprises of an act of deliberate, manual
handling or self manipulation of genital organ by fingers or mechanical devices till ejaculation in a male and orgasm in a female, i.e. achieving sexual gratification.

19. Nymphomaniac: It a type of perversion of excessive sexual desire in a woman, wherein the woman is in need of sex frequently, irrespective of whether it is by normal or abnormal sexual acts, such as masturbation, sexual intercourse, oral sex, sodomy, lesbianism, bestiality, etc.

20. Satyriasis: It is the excessive sexual desire, arousal and drive in men.

21. Frotteurism (Toucherism): It is a mischievous of obtaining sexual arousal and gratification by rubbing of one’s genitals against a non-consenting person in public places.

Medicolegal Importance

  • As per sections 290 and 291 IPC, this is a punishable offense in India.

22. Urolagnia (Urophilia, Undinism): It is a rare type of sexual perversion wherein the pervert achieves sexual gratification by watching the act of passing urine or defaecating by woman.

23. Paraphilia is used to indicate sexual arousal in response to sexual objects or situations that are not part of societal normative arousal/activity patterns or which may interfere with the capacity for reciprocal affectionate sexual activity.

23. Pedophilia: It is the recurrent, intense sexual fantasies, urges or behaviors involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children (≤ 13 years) by a person who is ≥ 16 years old and at least 5 years older than the child.

  • Infantophilia is a subcategory of pedophilia in which the victims are < 5 years.

24. Ephebophilia (Hebephilia): It is the sexual attraction of an adult to pubescent or post-pubescent adolescents.

25. Gerontophilia refers to the sexual preference for the elderly.

26. Uranism: The pervert gets sexual gratification by fingering, fondling or licking (homosexuality in males).

27. Coprophilia: It is a morbid attraction to, and sexual gratification obtained from feces (liking the smell, taste or feel).

28. Scatologia involves making obscene phone calls.
29. Partialism is sexual interest exclusively focused on a particular body part.
30. Klismaphilia is sexual activity involving enemas.

31. Indecent Assault: Any unwanted sexual behavior or touching of a female without her consent, with the intention or knowledge to outrage her modesty.

This includes:

  • Kissing of any part of female body
  • Touching, pressing the breasts or private parts, including thighs
  • Exposing a female’s genital parts, breasts, etc.
  • A medical practitioner can be accused of indecent assault if he examines a female patient by stripping her clothes without her consent.

32. Stalking involves following a woman or contacting such woman in spite of clear disinterest or monitors her through internet, e-mail or any other form of electronic communication.

Disclaimer: Doctoralerts neither promote any type of sexual crime nor intend to disrespect anyone. This post is just for educational purpose considering forensic medicine as integral part of medical

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