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Why Are Most Indians And Indian Laws Still So Confused About Marital Rapes?

Posted: July 15, 2020

Once married, men think they don’t need to ask consent from their wives to have sex. Why are we still so confused about women’s rights over their bodies?

Usually, after a marriage in India, it is implied that both the man and the woman have consented to sexual intercourse. According to the Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), rape is any activity that includes all forms of sexual assault involving nonconsensual sex with a woman.

However, there is an exemption to this law too. Exception 2 of Section 375 says that unwilling sexual intercourse between a man and his wife of over 15 years of age will not be classified as rape. It immunises the act of marital rape from prosecution.

Why don’t women have rights over their bodies?

According to the current law, a wife is presumed to give perpetual consent to her husband for sex after they’re married. While this unwilling sexual relationship between a couple is recognised as a crime in most countries, in India, the laws are still unclear.

Isn’t a wife a human after she’s married? Does she not have her own identity and rights over her body? Is she not someone who can decide what she wants or doesn’t want to do?

A woman’s virginity is one of the most talked about issues for a long time now. To be intimate with someone is an important thing in everyone’s life, it is a way of expressing your love for the other person. And it is more enjoyable when it happens when both people are willingly doing it.

Being married doesn’t mean they don’t need consent

At the same time, in the Indian society, being married is considered as a perpetual consent from the wife to have sex with her husband. Once they’re married, men don’t need to ask consent from their wives to have sex with them. Then why is there a concept of ‘marital rape’ that is still rampant? Why is it still not criminalised in India? And why are our laws so ambiguous when it comes to women and their identity?

Earlier, women didn’t have the ability or the conditioning to oppose her husband, and was bound to accept whatever her husband told her. The husband was considered a superior, earning member while the wife only took care of the house and looked after the family.

However, today, women are demanding their identities. They may be the bread-earners of the family, they may be single mothers but they are women are ambitious and have dreams that they want to fulfil. And for these dreams, women today, don’t like to be dependent on any other person.

Is sex the only thing between a married couple?

If a woman doesn’t consent to having sex with her husband for a long time after marriage, does it give him the right to demand a separation? Is sexual intercourse the only thing needed to maintain a healthy married relationship?

Does emotional bonding or love between two people not matter at all? Sexual intercourse is important and should happen organically. However, in our society, the condition, often is such that it is imposed on upon you once you’re married.

Either change the law that doesn’t criminalise marital rape or let women have the right to deny having sexual intercourse with her husband. It’s time we let women have rights over her own body and its satisfaction!

Picture credits: Still from 2013 movie Bombay Talkies

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