Marital Rape: The Case Where Rape Is Not A Criminal Offence

The Logical Indian

June 23rd, 2015

Ever since the Nirbhaya case, the wish to punish rapists and put a stop to this heinous crime has kept increasing. So is the awareness and cases being reported. Every move regarding this issue works against the demons.

But what of the demons within the premises of promised safety? What then, when you’re in danger from the very person who is supposed to protect you? What of marital rape?

It’s considered that the concept of marital rape understood internationally can’t be applied suitably in the Indian context, one of the reasons being stated is, because marriages are treated as a sacrament in the country. But then isn’t the act of marital rape in itself a violation to this very sacrament?

Did you know that marital rape is an offence under the Indian Penal code when the husband and the wife are separated though still married to each other under section 376B of the Indian Penal Code? A man can also be accused of rape for having sexual intercourse with his wife if the wife is below 15 years of age. But then again, the clause in itself is a contradiction since the legal age of marriage for women in the country is 18 years, the same being true for the age of consent to sex by women.

So what is the IPV? The Intimate Partner Violence includes acts of physical aggression, psychological abuse, forced intercourse and other forms of sexual coercion, and various controlling behaviors such as isolating a person from their family and friends or even restricting their access to information and assistance. In the aftermath of the Delhi gang rape of 2012, the Justice Verma Committee, set up to review laws against sexual assaults on women, had said that “the law ought to specify that marital or other relationship between the perpetrator or victim is not a valid defense against the crimes of rape or sexual violation”. But unfortunately, the government failed to act on the committee’s recommendation.

Another thing that’s being pointed out is that a law against marital rape may be misused by women, especially in the case of an acrimonious divorce. That is why it is important that laws must be gender neutral and should not have any loopholes.But the fact that such acts are a heinous crime cannot be denied, be it within a marriage or not. But then again, sexual abuse is never carried out in isolation and is accompanied with verbal and physical abuse.

The Logical Indian believes that it’s about time that marital rape be criminalized and punishable. Marital rape isn’t only a violation of the constitution of marriage, the victim’s body but also a violation of the victim’s right to say no. And denial to the victim’s power to say no is a violation to their right to equality.

Image Courtesy: Degala D’signs

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