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Marital rape is still not a crime in India, kept intact so that a husband's patriarchal 'right' over a wife remains. Time it goes.
Marital rape is still not a crime in India, kept intact so that a husband’s patriarchal ‘right’ over a wife remains. Time it goes.
‘He raped me again,’ Mia’s croaking tone was barely audible over the phone.
Mia (name changed) is thirty-two. At twenty-one, she took control over her life and married the man she dated for three years. One would never have expected her to utter those words. After all, love marriages lure us with dreams of everlasting joy and a never-ending utopia of passion.
Regrettably, conditions which forge an environment acceptable for a husband to rape his wife are embedded deep in our cultural flaws, influenced by the imported ideology of a submissive woman, rooted in the 1860 Indian Penal Code, our founders inherited and decided to enforce.
Thomas Babington Macaulay drafted the 1860 Indian Penal Code which other Commonwealth nations implement to this day. It states this, on the law of rape – “Sexual intercourse by a man with his wife is not rape.”
Poor Mia and countless wives like her should have been alerted to this ‘license’ men possess after nuptials. Instead of exchanging promises, rituals, grand gatherings and photoshoots during a wedding, women must be told that they grant their husbands the power to abuse, rape, molest and own their bodies until death do them apart.
If Mia had known that Sir Matthew Hale’s argument in a 1736 treatise, is duly followed in India to this day, she might have thought twice about signing off the rights over her body to her dear partner. Hale (served as Chief Justice in England) said that ‘the husband of a woman cannot himself be guilty of an actual rape upon his wife, on account of the matrimonial consent she has given, and which she cannot retract.’ Despicable.
While most nations, including, Zimbabwe, Turkey, Cambodia, Nepal, Ghana, Thailand, Rwanda and even Tonga and Mauritius have managed to criminalise marital rape, India is honeymooning with the unjustified, obsolete 1860 penal code. India, China, thirteen African nations and all Middle Eastern countries except Qatar and Israel, expect wives to submit themselves permanently to vaginal, oral, and anal intercourse with their ‘spouses’ in all circumstances.
Well, I enlightened Mia with the information she should have learned ages ago. I also gave her the knowledge that in December 1993, the UN published a declaration which established marital rape as a human rights violation.
Despite the criminalisation of marital rape in several nations, every nation including Britain, USA, Australia and others, a realistic implementation of this law is a nightmare fuelled by administrative indifference.
Not every man who rapes his wife gets punished. It is the women who tolerate the intolerance, sustaining unwanted pregnancies, vaginal injuries, torn muscles, broken bones, black eyes and the consequences of marital rape.
Mia discovered an option. She could seek help from the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 (PWDVA). However, it offers only a civil resolution to the offence.
The most significant action Mia should take is to raise her voice, expose, and refuse her ‘legal’ rapist. It will not be easy, but it will be easier than submitting to rape regularly.
Image source: a still from the film Agnisakshi
I studied Religion & Conflict at Harvard University.
I am a freelance, mostly uncharted journalist, with roots in the London School of Journalism.
I grew up within a multi-cultural, inter-continental tapestry of race variations, read more...
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When someone accuses you of "too much feminism", what they are really saying is, "I am uncomfortable with you challenging the status quo and disrupting my privilege".
Time and again, there is one phrase that keeps coming up in the social media discourse on feminism. Any guesses?
Ah, no prizes for guessing the infamous “itni bhi feminist” or “too much feminism” phrase, a classic eye-roller for me, and I am sure for many more of my tribe, in the realm of gender equality discussions.
Pray tell me, how can an ideology, a movement be too ‘much’? It’s not salt or the seasoning of your soup where you can go, “Oops, too much salt, only one spoon was required”. Either you stand for what feminism stands for, or you don’t.
Half a decade ago marriage was a bargain between two famlies. Most of the women were married off to a man who was either well off or who could fend for his wife and family. Today the parameters of marriage have changed. Women no longer marry for the sake of economic security. Their expectations from marriage have changed in the course of years because of their changed status.
As women grew independent, their patterns of choosing partners have changed dramatically. Now women choose men who they feel can satiate their emotional as well as physical needs. Intimacy is no longer the physicality that happened between two people under the supervision of elders of the family for the sole purpose of procreation. Intimacy in today’s marriages involve understanding and fulfilling each other’s emotional as well as sexual needs.
So before you decide to hook up see if you know these five things about intimacy.
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