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Marital rape is about more than just physical violation of a wife by a husband. There are layers of emotional trauma that it comes wrapped in.
According to the Indian Penal Code- Section 375, forced sex in marriage is a crime only when the wife is below age 15. Forced sex with a wife older than 15 is nothing extraordinary, because in Indian society, women are usually taught to ‘satisfy’ and ‘sacrifice’ for men, no matter what they want.
A woman may be a homemaker or a working woman, and after a very long day that she had, she wishes to fall asleep as soon as she goes to bed. But wait, she can’t because her husband had a good day at work and he wishes that his day should end with good sex. Now, “No means No” no longer holds, because this time it’s her husband and she can’t deny it.
Let’s consider a situation where it is other way round. This time the wife had a very good day and she wishes to be in bed with her husband and have sex, but her husband had a hectic day and he wants to go to sleep. Would the wife end up getting the pleasure that she wished for? Mostly no, and she’ll also probably be shamed for it.
In my opinion, marriage is where two individuals choose to hold their hands together and forever, but slowly this changes to where the husband would be the one having an upper hand over the wife, especially in bed.
The consent of the wife is never asked for. Because she is married to him, in this case, forced sex by her husband isn’t considered a crime, though if you really think about it, he’s raping her.
The worst part is that a wife never realizes that she can say NO if she doesn’t want it. Women are trained never to say a no to any of their husband’s demands.
Be it Janki in Parched, or Shireen in Lipstick Under My Burkha, or Amrita or Maya Sarao in Thappad, or Ayesha in Dil Dhadakne Do, sex without consent is found irrespective of where they live, how educated they are, how much money they have and make.
In Parched and Lipstick Under My Burkha, there were clear marital rapes, but one might wonder why I included Thappad and Dil Dhadakne Do.
In Thappad, two women who are very much different, shares similar experiences with their husbands. In Taapsee’s character Amrita’s case, she says she doesn’t want it that night, yet because her husband wants to, she has to comply. In case of Maya Sarao, her character Netra Jaisingh (a very successful lawyer) had a big breakthrough in her career on that day, and all that she longed for after her big day was a little celebration and acknowledgment from her husband. Instead what does she get? Her husband wants nothing but sex and she stood there helpless giving her man what he demanded.
In Dil Dhadakne Do, Priyanka Chopra’s character Ayesha is not in a mood to have “the unromantic sex’ but as she doesn’t want the night to end in a nightmare, she says okay.
In both cases, the women chose to put their husband’s choice over what they wanted. And that’s what women are expected to do, right?
It’s not just about a woman’s husband’s penis entering her body without her acceptance, it’s more about the untold, unheard, unseen and unspoken emotional traumas that she undergoes during and after the sex.
What if women in the above mentioned movies chose to say instead that they were forced to have the sex (in first two movies) or that they said Yes because the option of saying No was not available to them (in the second two movies), everyone including their mothers would have convinced them that they must be available for their men when the latter asks for sex.
The problem here is that the husband gets it whenever he wants it and however he wants it, and his wife’s choice, preferences, and consent is never thought about. Men seem to understand all kinds of quantum physics and many such things much more easily than the concept of consent.
So how many wives out there have to be an Amrita or an Ayesha or a Netra Jaisingh or a Janki or a Shireen to survive each day of their lives?
Image source: a still from the film Thappad
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Marital Rape In India: We Value ‘Institutions’ Over Women
A Marriage Certificate Is Not A License To Rape. It Is Time We Had A Law Against Marital Rape
‘Sacred’ Indian Marriages And The ‘Right’ Of Men To Sex With A Wife Against Her Wishes
Millions Of Indian Women Silently Suffer Marital Rape Every Day; Stop This Travesty Already!
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