Be A Virgin Until Marriage, But A Whore Thereafter

Posted: September 22, 2017

What gives a married man the right to force himself on his wife? Is she a slave? Has he bought her? Does he own her? How is it any less than any other form of physical assault? How is it NOT criminal?

It was a solemn afternoon at Shikha’s place. Shikha had come back to her parents’ home within two months of her arranged marriage. After much provocation, she revealed that she and her husband, Anil were having ‘compatibility issues’. After being probed even further by her mother, Shikha said that her husband has been ‘forcing himself’ on her. She said he tries to penetrate her when she is not ready, and that it hurts.

Let me give you a little background about Shikha. Shikha went to an all girls’ school. Her parents were very strict and conservative. They did not want her to attend a co-ed college because mingling with boys was a risky adventure that could result losing the very sacred family honour. Remember the famous dialogue from the movie Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani? “Jawaan ladkiyan zyada enjoy karti hain to pregnant ho jati hain!”

Shikha used to get picked up from tuitions, probably the only place she had limited interaction with the opposite gender. After completing her education, she was married to an unknown man who she had met twice.

The expected transformation

Cut back to present day. Shikha’s mother and elder sister took up the role of ‘counselling’ her.

What do you mean it hurts? It may hurt the first few times. It is not an excuse for not being intimate with your husband!
Why else has he married you? What is the point of being pretty if you can’t satisfy your husband?
If you refuse him, he will go find it elsewhere! Men need it! You want your marriage to break up because of this?

Shikha visited a gynecologist once her Google searches on the subject resulted in a scary phenomenon called ‘vaginismus’. The gynecologist checked her up and ruled it out:

‘There is nothing wrong with you physically. You are just scared and your body gets tensed. You need to cooperate with your husband!”

Shikha had never even held a man’s hand before marriage. Her husband’s sex education probably originated from watching pornography. When a not so experienced Shikha discussed her problem with her experienced friends, she realized that there is something called foreplay. Something that is required for her to relax. Her husband who could probably not last long enough to offer her such luxuries, invariably rushed into the act, angry and abusive. He shamed her for being useless.

Shikha’ sex life or rather the lack of it had become a family discussion now. But nobody cared to speak to Anil, on how he could do things differently. Try some romance maybe instead of demanding sex as his birth right?

Shikha got no support from her own family. Her mother who would have been scandalized if Shikha had even kissed a hypothetical boyfriend before marriage, shamed her for not having enough sex two months into the marriage.

Her sister who always told her to stay away from the evil ‘male’ species who are hardwired to spread their seed boasted about having sex three times on her wedding night.

To her absolute horror, other sexual acts which she thought were restricted to pornography were normalized to her by her otherwise shy and demure married cousins as ‘necessary’ if you want to ‘keep’ your husband.

Her mother also gave her examples of all honourable women who have had babies within the first year of marriage.

Marital rape in India – What does the law say

“Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, which defines rape, has an exception clause: Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.” But the main clauses in the section define rape as penetration without a woman’s consent and will. For married women, the only recourse the law offers in instances when intercourse is without consent is the much-maligned Section 498-A IPC (pertaining to cruelty against wife by husband and relatives) and the civil provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act.”

The Delhi High Court heard petitions seeking declaration of Section 375 of the IPC as unconstitutional on the ground that it discriminated against married women being sexually assaulted by their husbands. The Centre told the Delhi high court that criminalizing marital rape “may destabilize the institution of marriage” and become an easy tool for harassing husbands.

Countries such as Australia, Sweden, Norway, Poland, South Africa, Canada, the United States and New Zealand, have laws against marital rape. The countries that do not, include Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran etc. Needless to say, how a country treats its women is an apt indicator of how progressive it is as a society.

Who is to be blamed?

Every time there is a debate on criminalising marital rape, men immediately jump to defend it. Rape of an unmarried girl is recognised by our society as an heinous act. Not because it violates a woman’s consent but because it ruins her ‘chances’ in the marriage market. Pre-marital sexual relations are frowned upon. A woman is supposed to preserve her virginity for her future husband. It is a gift that he will unveil on the wedding night! She is now his property. He has acquired an unlimited license to touch her, any time he wants, in any way he wants.

But is it fair to blame only men for this kind of an entitled mentality? What about people like Shikha’s mother, sister, and an extremely educated gynecologist! Did the thought even occur to them that she had the right to say no to her husband? As women are they not supposed to understand the concept of consent which surpasses a legal and social institution such as marriage?

In a country where people get married for sex, how do we even begin to address this issue?

Don’t want to have sex? Why marry and ruin a poor man’s life?!

In our society sexual compatibility is not considered before marriages, at least in the arranged set-up. There are so many more important things to match – such as caste, horoscope, dowry etc!

And what is sexual compatibility anyway? A good Indian girl should be a virgin until marriage. But the very night she enters the holy matrimony, she should start pleasing her husband like his favourite porn star and continue to do so until death do them apart!

It is unusual that a woman may never want to have sex with her husband. If so, the reasons could range from physical, emotional, and physiological factors to orientation. If the couple wants to continue in the marriage, they can consult therapists to resolve the issue. If they both have highly inconsistent libidos, they need to communicate and figure out a way. If they are still unable to find a solution, there is always an option called divorce. Rape is not an option!

Men in India are averse to divorce because they believe that the laws in India favour women. This is not necessarily true. The Supreme Court of India earlier this year has issued a set of directives related to the application of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), with a view to prevent the misuse of this provision in cases filed under it. This directive may prevent “false” harassment cases, but what about the women who are actually going through abuse? In the absence of laws against marital rape, and Section 498A also becoming more men friendly, what recourse is available to women undergoing domestic violence? Ironically, men still manage to perceive themselves as “victims” if marital rape is criminalized!

Get over it!

News flash for wannabe rapists:

If you are with a sex-worker and have paid her to have a good time, but she changes her mind and says no? It is still a no!

If you marry a woman in front of 200 people, and you pounce on her on the wedding night, and she says no? It is still a no!

If you have been married for 10 years and had a great sex life, but now your wife says no? It is still a no!

You think it is unfair? No, it is not. The universe does not owe you sex because you are a man. Go find someone who wants to have sex with you. If you can’t find such a person, then well you do not deserve sex.

Live with it!

Author’s Note: The terms ‘slut’ / ‘whore’ are used in the article with the sole intention of highlighting the irony of expectations from women in a society that loves to control a woman’s sexuality at every stage of her life. I do not support the usage of such terms for any women including sex workers. No part of the article is intended to disrespect sex workers / porn stars.

Image source: a screen grab from Lipstick Under My Burkha

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7 Comments


  1. Pingback: Be A Virgin Before Marriage But A Whore Thereafter – Whynotsayit

  2. Seema Taneja

    Problem lies in our ancient texts Tanvi. They lay all such expectations on women. A woman is raised as a prude, the family’s prestige lies on safeguarding her virginity before marriage. She is supposed to serve her husband like a faithful servant during the day without raising her voice let alone asking any questions and yet entertain him in bed like a whore at night, ‘seduce him like Rambha and Menaka’ the texts ordain. Nowhere is it mentioned that a man has a duty towards satisfying his woman too. When such rights are received as entitlement then why would men not force themselves on their wives without a care? No wonder Indian society doesn’t recognize marital rape.

    • TANVI SINHA

      Yes Seema ji. While researching for this article, I came to know that many countries did not have laws against marital rape initially. But as society progressed, they changed their laws. We however take pride is our regressive, misogynist, culture and use the culture card to suppress women at every stage.

  3. I totally agree with you. Progress in our country for women is restricted to modern clothes and lifestyle. But have we actually given freedom to our women is a big question mark. Even today all rules of behaviour is towa women and girls. It is sad we all know it but our society will not change

  4. Great Article and so true.
    Women are expected not to even have a bf and suddenly they are expected to f*ck their husbands…

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