The bizarre act of Necrophilia refers to the sexual urge and attraction to a corpse, which has little or no acknowledgment in most countries. It is a heinous crime in which the criminal derives sexual pleasure from having sex with a dead body. Necrophilia is frequently seen to be committed by spurned or rejected lovers, with sorrowful passion as the sole motivation.
Joseph Guislain, a Belgian physician, coined the term necrophilia. Necrophilia can take several forms, according to psychiatrist Dr. Jaydip Sarkar. In Greek, necro means “death” and philia means “love.” Necrophilia can be romantic (inability to let go of a departed loved one) rather than sexual (sex with the body) or sadistic…A romantic necrophiliac is someone who does not think a loved one has died. In such circumstances, they usually mummify the body and keep it as if it were still alive, speaking to it as if it were still alive.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) classifies Necrophilia under Paraphilia (sexual arousal to atypical objects, situations, fantasies, behaviors, or individuals).
In 2008, Anil Aggrawal published a paper titled “A new classification of necrophilia.” He stated in the paper that necrophiliacs can be of at least ten different kinds. Let us discuss three of such kinds
1. Homicidal Necrophiles – These necrophiles are the most dangerous necrophiles of all. Homicidal necrophiles murder living people for the purpose of having sexual relations with them. Such instances are commonly referred to as “warm necrophilia” because the sexual activity is performed on the deceased’s fresh bodies.
Homicidal necrophilia includes sadism and emotion. Jeffrey Dahmer, an American serial killer, is a well-known example. The shards of his victims’ bodies that he preserved aroused him. The carcasses of dead animals were also said to have aroused him.
2. Regular Necrophiles – People who steal dead bodies from mortuaries and cemeteries for satisfying their sexual desire are included in this category. This type of necrophile prefers to have sexual intercourse with the dead even if they have the possibility to do so with the living.
3. Romantic Necrophiles – These necrophiles have moderate necrophilic impulses and find it difficult to accept the death of a loved one. They generally mummify their loved ones’ bodies while continuing to have sexual intercourse with them. This tendency is usually just transient, although it might persist for years or even decades. The majority of necrophiles suffer from mental problems and require psychiatric care.
Indian laws in regard to Necrophilia
Article 21 of the Indian Constitution not only recognizes the right to live with dignity and respect but also includes the right to die with dignity. The Supreme Court in Parmanand Katara v. Union of India, recognized that Article 21 provides for the right to life, fair treatment, and dignity, and these rights not only extend to living people but it also implies to the dead. In the case of Ashray Adhikar Ahiyan v. Union of India, the High Court ruled that the dignity of the dead must be respected and that the deceased homeless people are entitled to a proper cremation according to their religious customs. In the case of Ramji Singh and Mujeeb Bhai v. State of U.P. & Ors., the Allahabad High Court stated that Article 21 also includes the right to treat the corpse with the respect that he or she deserves throughout life and to protect the dignity of the deceased person.
Section 297 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, makes a vague attempt at incorporating the defiling of a dead body within its statutory confinements. But there are numerous limitations with the said provision. Firstly, only those persons can be treated as liable for acts prohibited under Sub-section (1) who have trespassed into the burial grounds. A morgue keeper, an employee in the morgue, guards of the morgue or guards of the burial grounds and keeper of the burial grounds or any other person who is present at either place under their official capacity cannot be held liable even if they are caught indulged in any of the acts prohibited under Sub-section (1) since they have not trespassed into either of the places. The provision falls flat at the very first requirement. Secondly, the punishment attached is imprisonment up to just a year or fine or both.
There exists no penal provision in India which criminalizes the “particular act of necrophilia” if no trespass has been committed.
Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, states that “Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal…”. Although necrophilia appears to be against nature’s order, the term “voluntarily” makes it difficult to place it in this section.
Necrophilia cases in India
The most prominent case of necrophilia in India was the Nithari case of 2006 where serial killers Surendra Koli and Mohinder Singh Pandher were booked after it was discovered that 19 girls were missing. It was later found that the duo used to murder the girls and thereafter had sexual intercourse with the body.
In 2018, a 20-year-old laborer from Gurugram admitted to raping the corpse of numerous of his victims in order to satiate his lust for sex and maximize his catch. In another case in Uttar Pradesh, it was discovered that a deaf and mute guy attempted to rape the woman, but when she fought, he strangled her to death and raped her corpse.
In June 2019 in another shocking tale from West Bengal, Kamruzzaman Sarkar, a 42-year old man, was arrested by the Police for murdering at least seven women and having sex with their corpses, besides injuring several others over the past five months in and around East Burdwan and the neighbouring Hooghly district. He was booked under IPC Sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder) and 376 (rape), and is now in 12-day police custody.
In May 2020, police in Assam detained a 50-year-old man for allegedly having sexual relations with the deceased body of a 14-year-old girl.
Because the statutes are so broad and vague, the offenders are usually charged with murder, rape, sexual assault, and cannibalism in the majority of these cases, but not necrophilia. The state is unable to frame proper charges due to the ambiguity of the laws, and this nebulous crime goes unpunished.
Laws around the Globe in regard to Necrophilia
^ United Kingdom – Section 70 of the Sexual Offences Act, 2003 of the UK makes it an offense for a person who intentionally sexually penetrates, knowingly or recklessly, any part of his body into any part of a dead person. In the United States, Necrophilia is being treated as a felony and in others as a misdemeanor.
^ Canada – Section 182 of the Criminal Code of Canada, 1985 makes Necrophilia punishable.
^ New Zealand – Section 150 of the Crimes Act, 1961, serves imprisonment for two years to any person doing any act on the corpse, whether buried or unburied, to harm its dignity.
^ South Africa – Section 14 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, 2007 prohibits Necrophilia.
When it comes to Necrophilia, the Indian laws are weak and vague. The legal status of a deceased person is discovered to be a considerable lag. After recognizing the scope of Article 21, which protects a person’s right to dignity, the term “human corpse” should be included in the definition of “person” under the IPC. Because it is a horrific crime with non-natural circumstances, it should be considered in the context of the unnatural offenses listed in Section 377 of the IPC. As a result, there is a need for legislation to punish such heinous crimes as Necrophilia, which desecrates the dignity of a dead corpse and humanity altogether.
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