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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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I huffed, puffed and panted up the hill, taking many rest breaks along the way. My calf muscles pained, my heart protested, and my breathing became heavy at one stage.
“Let’s turn back,” my husband remarked. We stood at the foot of Shravanbelagola – one of the most revered Jain pilgrimage centres. “We will not climb the hill,” he continued.
My husband and I were vacationing in Karnataka. It was the month of May, and even at the early hour of 8 am in the morning, the sun scorched our backs. After visiting Bangalore and Mysore, we had made a planned stop at this holy site in the Southern part of the state en route to Hosur. Even while planning our vacation, my husband was very excited at the prospect of visiting this place and the 18 m high statue of Lord Gometeshwara, considered one of the world’s tallest free-standing monolithic statues.
What we hadn’t bargained for was there would be 1001 granite steps that needed to be climbed to have a close-up view of this colossal magic three thousand feet above sea level on a hilltop. It would be an understatement to term it as an arduous climb.
Every daughter, no matter how old, yearns to come home to her parents' place - ‘Home’ to us is where we were brought up with great care till marriage served us an eviction notice.
Every year Dugga comes home with her children and stays with her parents for ten days. These ten days are filled with fun and festivity. On the tenth day, everyone gathers to feed her sweets and bids her a teary-eyed adieu. ‘Dugga’ is no one but our Goddess Durga whose annual trip to Earth is scheduled in Autumn. She might be a Goddess to all. But to us, she is the next-door girl who returns home to stay with her parents.
When I was a child, I would cry on the day of Dashami (immersion) and ask Ma, “Why can’t she come again?” My mother would always smile back.
I mouthed the same dialogue as a 23-year-old, who was home for Durga Puja. This time, my mother graced me with a reply. “Durga is fortunate to come home at least once. But many have never been home after marriage.”
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