Marital Rape In India: How Long Will Law Condone It?

The law on marital rape in India is archaic and fails to take women's consent into account. Here is why the marital rape exemption doesn't make sense.

The law on marital rape in India is still archaic and fails to take women’s consent fully into account. Here is why the marital rape exemption doesn’t make sense.

Statistics indicate that one out of every ten women who has ever been married, has been raped by a husband at least once, and sometimes many times over the years. But in many countries, marital rape is not yet a criminal offence and this exemption has been termed the ‘marital rape exemption’.

Let alone being a criminal offence, it is not recognized as a substantial or serious occurrence. Much of the marital rape does not get reported. The truth is, marital rape as a whole is quite understated.

Laws against rape are usually built on the belief that women are the property of men. That prior to her marriage, she was the property of her father, and that after her marriage, she became the property of her husband is the conception on which most laws are built on. What these do not take into account is the consent of the woman in domestic contours. Admittedly, laws have been changed during the course of many years, but certain foundations of those laws seem to be indefatigable.

Three major justifications for the ‘marital rape exemption’ can be sketched out. The first one is that the woman is the man’s property, and discounts all the rights of/for the woman. Yes, it is as if the woman alludes to her husband to use her as he pleases, when she gets married to him. That’s so nice of her, don’t you think?

The second rationale for justification is that marriage is an institution where two individuals, the man and the woman, unite together as one. But they unite together, into a single entity, which is the man. (Oh, but of course. You saw that coming! Of course, it had to be the man!)

The third rationale assumes that a woman’s consent – apparent consent- to marriage suffices to be consent for any manner or degree of sexual relation. This final third rationale bores the hell out of me, the question being whether marriage is a medium that enables men to release their sexual tension.

The first rationale is widely believed to be invalid or obsolete, but I believe that this is so only in theory. But I don’t see how it is obsolete, in current scenarios. There are still societies and families that are so backward, that they believe in training women right from an early age to suit the needs of the man to whom she will become the better half. Women are still seen as inanimate entities in many societies, by many people.

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The second rationale is refuted by claiming that marriage is an institution built on equality. That doesn’t fool me though. If equality means that man is greater than woman, then that sounds just about right.

The third rationale is probably why marital rape is still understated and downplayed in many parts of the world.

What should be understood is that when a woman marries a man, she does not sign a contract of any kind. And marriage most certainly does not open her to sexual relations of any and all kinds, and definitely not against her consent. This third rationale assumes that the wife is always sexually available to the husband, which makes little sense.

What escapes my comprehension is what women mean to some men. What are they? Are they punching bags, to vent out one’s divergent energy on? Are they automobiles that can be taken for a ride, whenever and however the man pleases? Are they WiFi routers, to simply plug in whenever needed?

Hey Man! Your wife is not a thing.

Believe me, someday, when you try to plug in, you will get a shock, which will eviscerate you, physically and morally.

First published at the author’s blog.

Slogan pic via Shutterstock 


About the Author

Karthik Ramakrishnan

Lackadaisical engineer. Student journalist. Football is love. Jam is ecstasy. Dogs: heaven. Reading = breathing. Madras is home. read more...

4 Posts | 24,067 Views

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