Necrophilia; is it an Offence?

Guddeti Naga Lahari, Student, Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University (DSNLU), Visakhapatnam

 “She killed herself because she was a victim of sexual abuse. But even in death, her body was not spared. Her soul must be, somewhere, crying out in pain. We live in a society that turns a deaf ear to women who are abused everyday, can we then, hear the cries of the women who are dead? I have never feared death, but today my biggest fear is dying; my body after my death.”[i]


The term necrophilia was coined by Belgian Alienist, Joseph Guislain, who first used it in a lecture in the year 1950. Also called ‘Thanatophilia’ or ‘Necrolagnia’, necrophilia is an ailment of sexual attraction to corpses. It is pathological fascination with human dead bodies, which often takes the form of a desire to engage with them in sexual intercourse or sexual activities. It is a punishable offence with imprisonment or fine or both according to the laws of the respective nations. Although, this heinous misdemeanour is prohibited by the laws of many countries, Indian laws are very much silent, or say, unclear in this regard in spite of barbarism that is associated with necrophilia, as, it must be noted that ‘sex with corpses’ is not explicitly stated in the Indian Penal Code, however the person convicted with the above offence can be charged under section 297 and 377 of the Code. The present paper deal with necrophilia and laws related to it in some major developed countries in contrast with the weak, unclear and ambiguous Indian law in this regard.


The word “Nekros” or “Necr” is a Greek term that means or relates to corpse or dead, the word “Philia” (is also Greek) means love or attraction, and together, both of these words form the term “Necrophilia” that is defined as a sick abnormal fascination with death and the dead; it is a psychosexual disorder which is categorized under the group of disorders of paraphilias, a subtype of psychosexual disorder, that involves unusual or bizarre fantasies or acts that are necessary for fulfillment of sexual excitement.[ii] This sexual attraction for or sexual intercourse with dead bodies or obsession with erotic interest in or stimulation by corpses[iii] is also known as necromania or necrophilism. Different authors and researchers classify necrophilia in different categories. In 1989, Jonathan Rosman and Philip Resnick classified necrophilia into three types based on the acts of the necrophiles (persons practicing necrophilia) on the corpses, as: Homicidal Necrophilia- the necrophile under this category murders a person to obtain the corpse for sexual gratification; Regular Necrophilia- in this the necrophile uses already dead bodies for sexual pleasure; Necrophilic Fantasy- these necrophiles just fantasize about the sexual activity with corpses without carrying out any necrophilic acts.[iv]

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