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Marital Rape Is Still Not A Crime! When Will This Dismal Situation Change?

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Rape in a marriage, that is, marital rape, is still a big problem in India, with the law still considering marriage ‘sacred’, unwilling to really take action!

“Rape is the crime, typically committed by a man, of forcing another person to have sexual intercourse or any other form of sexual penetration with the offender against their will”. – Oxford Dictionary definition.

We generally associate this term with a situation when the man involved is a stranger. But what if it’s the person within the home, such as one’s spouse? Marital rape, the term used in such cases, is non-consensual sex in which the perpetrator is the victim’s spouse. The force could result in intimate partner violence, an abuse of power, establishing dominance and control over the other.

So what’s the big deal? Isn’t sex a vital aspect in marriage? As simple as it may seem so, ‘Marital Rape’ is a form of violence and could greatly affect the partner involved, both physically as well as emotionally. The Government of India recently made a statement that marital rape cannot be criminalised in India as marriages are sacred in the country. A host of debates and discussions have been sparked, with many women’s rights activists being irked by the statement.

Well, I do agree that marriage is sacred. It is sacred because it brings together two entirely different individuals to live under one home. It is sacred because it speaks of mutual respect, understanding, trust and equality. If these are prevalent in a marriage, yes, I would call it a sacred relationship. But if there is dominance and suppression of the other partner, the whole sacredness aspect is a big question mark.

The Justice Verma Committee report says that any sexual contact against a women’s consent is sexual violence regardless of the relationship of the accused to the women- whether husband or Boyfriend. So just because she is married, she doesn’t have to suffer an aftermath of rape.

 

The next big question in almost all minds- What about false claims? Could it be misused? It could be, but that is not an excuse to scrap the law. Why so? Read further.

  • Despite a domestic violence act in the country not many women still come out and file a case against their spouses (for social and economic reasons). Keeping this in mind, would there really be a large amount of false claims coming up? I wonder.
  • The onus on such cases is for the victim to prove the deed. And in the case of a marital rape, such would be difficult as there would be ‘zilch’ number of witnesses. How many women would actually be able to prove their rape? I wonder.
  • Almost all laws have the potential to be abused, and this is known fact among the legal fraternity. Whether it is theft, adultery, murder or cheating. We don’t really scrap these laws, do we?

Having a marital law, may not be the ultimate solution to the issue of marital rape. Nevertheless, it is a much needed thing, to bring about a change in the mindset that prevails in society.

It could bring out a message, loud and clear, that marriage does not give the man a license to exercise his dominance over the woman.

It would help us take that step ahead in bringing about a positive change in our patriarchal society, of bringing about equality and respect in a relationship.

Published here earlier.

Ramya Abhinand

Ramya Abhinand

With degrees in Sociology and Economics, Ramya is a blogger who writes on society and culture, hoping to bring about positive impact on as many people as possible. She runs a blog called www.meotherwise.com.


Author's Blog: http://meotherwise.com

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3 Comments


  1. All forms of domestic violence and domestic abuse should come under a definite law in India. In Australia the Domestic and Family violence protection Act 2012 aims expressly at preventing various types of abuse and violence within the family. It is important to be aware that not just between spouses but often even within families, there is frequent misuse of authority and power in relationships under the guise of words like “sacred, family honour, family status, obedience,dependence etc” The more we use these words to describe these relationships, the less likelihood of there being balance justice and equity. All relationships should be rather defined by rights and responsibilities that are justly and fairly distributed. Misusing authority and power, parents and elders frequently abuse children, spouses abuse each other, adult children abuse or mistreat dependent aging and elderly parents. This is all because we try to elevate the rigid concept of “family” on a pedestal and then worship the idea rather than understand and acknowledge what happens in reality and practise. Marital rape is a form of violence and abuse. It should not be seen as anything else. Burying our heads in the sand is just ridiculous. We need to change laws relating to all types of abuse and violence within the home. The Australian law recognises that every member living in a home is vulnerable to various forms of violence and abuse and thus even live-in partners, old and sick dependents, children and spouses and relatives are covered with protection by this law.

  2. The common thing between ‘Rape’ and ‘Marital Rape’ is ‘forceful act’. The system and society needs to understand the meaning of RAPE, only then they could come up with the solution for the same.

  3. Fully agree! If you’re unmarried and someone forcefully, without your consent has sex with you – it’s rape. If you’re married, consent is not required? Is that the message we want to send out – that women should be prepared to sign their lives and physical safety over when they get married? Does that mean marriage in India is a license for man to commit any kind of sexual act with the woman who is married to him without her consent?

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