Should there be a law on Marital Rape? by Priyanshu Parasar

He was late today,

She was happy

He was tired,

She was extremely joyous

He had the dinner,

She served in fear

He asked for the dessert,

She bring it

Things went virtue that night,

But in the room

Only her ‘No’ was not valued,


It is unfortunate reality of our
country. “Marital Rape” a curse on our society. Before knowing what marital rape is? We have to
know the meaning of Rape. Rape is an act of sexual assault usually involving
forcefully sexual intercourse against an individual without that individual’s
consent. It affect victim, mentally more, rather than physically. Now, let’s
know what Marital Rape is? It includes two words- Marital meaning related to
marriage and Rape, we all are aware with the word. So, Marital Rape or Spouse
rape is forceful sexual intercourse by spouse with his better half without her
consent or against her will.

India has patriarchal form of society and opposite sex is considered to
be dependent on male of their family and are inferior. Although, we are
developed but even today unable to remove this concept totally. Even today, we
consider female as unimportant property of her significant other or guardian.
So, rape is considered as theft of female and wrong against spouse or guardian,
but in the cases of marital rape where the rape is committed by the husband
himself we stands as a shield of the husband and say,” it is the conjugal right
of the spouse and nothing is wrong in it”, and we never accept it as a crime.
We always thinks “how can a husband rape his wife?”

In our country, we consider that after marriage husband has all the
rights on his wife. Now, he can control everything according to himself and
wife has to strictly follow his orders. Wife is below

her husband and all the decision making power is within husband’s hands.
All the time, we talk about gender equality, then why at these time we keeps
mum? Why we just ignore the decision and will of the female? We perceived women
as baby-making machines where their rights on their body are inconceivable and
preposterous. According to an American psychologist -the typical marital rapist
is a man, who still believes that husbands are supposed to rule their wives. In
sexual matters; when he wants her, she should be glad and if she is not, he has
all the rights to force her for doing so. He humbles her and reasserts in the
most emotionally powerful way possible, that he is the ruler and she is his

In a survey conducted by National Health and Family Survey (NHFS-4) for
the year 2015-16, about 5.6% women have been reported as victims under the
category of “physically forced her to have sexual intercourse with him even she
did not want to “. But while the data on marital rape in India exists, marital
rape as a crime, “does not exist”. While most of the developed countries has
criminalized marital rape and there are punishment for that but surprisingly,
there is no law to protect married women against this heinous crime in our
country. Home Affairs minister Haribhai choudhary had said that marital rape
cannot be made a criminal offence in our country because of high illiteracy,
poverty, extreme religious beliefs and the very ‘sanctity’ of marriage. In
these cases, in our country the victim can seek restraining order and
protection under Domestic violence legislation and the accused is charged with
a minimal punishment of two years or so.

According to section 375 of Indian penal code which states what rape is.
But peculiarly, the exception to this provision states that “sexual intercourse
by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not
rape”. This exceptional clause give a full liberty and immunity to the lawfully
wedded husband to ravish the wife to any extend, though it might affect her
dignity and life as a whole. There are many brutal cases of marital rape and
the cases we are discussing are a few among a thousand. This is a case of an
Indian women, where she first lodged a domestic violence case against her
husband in 2007. Nine years later in august 2015. She was admitted in a public
hospital brutally injured in her private parts which was seen as “A matter
between husband and wife”, and no case was registered, only because marital
rape is not considered as her crime and women are forced to leave a life of a
rape victim. There is another case of 1890 in west Bengal where a 10 year old
girl was married with a 65 year old man and the girl died because of bleeding
and the old man has committed martial rape with her but no punishment was given
to the old man. Is it a fare decision? Is it not really rape? Is husband has
right to be brutal as they wants with their wives? Is a woman has no right on
her own life? We fetch those answers only when we ask these questions by ourselves.
We see a lot of cases related to this but always ignores thinking, why we
interfere in other’s matter? It is personal matter of husband and wife and they
have to solve it by themselves. Suppose you were there and all these happens
with you, still you ignore those because it is right of the spouse to do so. A
study indicate that 14% of married women are raped by their husband. Sexual
assault by one’s spouse accounts for approximately 25% of rapes committed. The
main target of marital rape are those women who attempt to flee.

Marital rape Is not recent curse, if we look back in our past we have
many cases related to it and many writers had also mention about it and also
how brutal it is. A British philosopher “Bertrand Rusell” who was awarded The
Nobel prize in literature in 1950 had deplored the situation of married women
in one of his famous work ‘Marriage And Morals ‘published in 1929. He wrote marriage is for women the communist mode of
livelihood and the total amount of undesired sex endured by woman is probably
grater in marriage than in prostitution.
And anotherwriter (Moses Harman) was jailed twice under the Comstock law
(federal act passed by united states congress) for publishing articles decrying
marital rape. These all shows that this crime was from very early time.
Feminist worked systematically since 1960’s to overturn the marital rape
exemption and criminalize it. In December 1993 the UNHCHR (United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights) published the declaration on the elimination of
violence against women. This establishes marital rape as a human right
violation. The rapes are increasing in criminalizing marital rape as crime by
the states. According to secretary General’s Study in 2006. Out of 104 states
32 states had made marital rape a specific criminal offence and in UN woman
report of 2011, 52 States have criminalized giving an increase in number.

Now, here the question arises “Should there be a law on marital rape?”
in our country. The answer is why not, if other develop countries can recognize
it as as criminal offence and have punishment for this then, why can’t we. The
legislation should take it seriously and should make a strict law against
marital rape. Rape is rape no matter it is committed before or after marriage
by a stranger or someone known like husband. Can there be two yardstick to
define rape-rape of an unmarried woman and that of a married woman? Is it
acceptable to discriminate a women just because she is married to the man who
raped her? The answer is no, It should be equally treated and equal punishment
should be there. While rape by a stranger is clearly understood as a rape. In
the case of rape by a husband, the history of the relationship affects the
victim’s reactions. There is a research showing that marital rape can be more
emotionally and physically damaging than rape by a stranger.

There are many NGOs and associations are R.I.T Foundations and All India
Democratic Woman Association fighting against martial rape and had filled
several PILs challenging the constitutionality of section 375 of IPC states that it discriminate against married
woman. In order to protect the woman, the judiciary should take initiative to
safeguard them. Married woman should be taken proper care and they should not
be subjected to sexual assault or violence. Our county as one side worship
goddess (woman God) and on the other side treat their woman as animals. She has
her rights to decide for herself and there should be a punishment for those who
dethrone their rights.

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