Marital rape is the act of sexual intercourse with one’s spouse without his or her consent. It is basically forcing or manipulating your spouse into having spousal intercourse with you which is equivalent to sexual assault.  If the offender had committed such offence against any person other than his wife it would be an offence punishable under the IPC but our amiss rape laws allow the husband to freely rape his wife without having any legal consequences.

Sec 375 of the IPC defined rape as “sexual intercourse with a woman against her will, without her consent, by coercion, misrepresentation or fraud or at a time when she has been intoxicated or duped, or is of unsound mental health and in any case if she is under 18 years of age.” However, this section comes with few exceptions and exception 2 of the sec exempts unwilling intercourse with a wife over fifteen years of age from the definition of rape. The exception clearly mentions that “Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape. The very reason why the Indian legislation has not yet criminalized marital rape lies with the age old patriarchal belief that women are the property of their husband after marriage and thus he can do whatsoever he wants with his property. This clearly shows that even after more than seven decades of independence we have not been able to put the patriarchal and misogynist mindset behind us.

The provision in the exception of the rape under IPC, that rape of the wife who is not below 15 years of age, not only violates Art 14 (right to equality) of the victim   but also violates her right to life (Art 21). The exception is violative of the right to equality of the victim as it creates two categories of women on basis of their marital status and even age. Women who are raped by men other than their husbands are free to take legal actions against them, whereas, the women who are raped by them can take no such action. In this way, the provision protects the unmarried women for the same act for which the married women above 15 years of age are given no legal remedy.

According to Article 21 of the constitution right to life includes right to live with dignity, health, in safe living conditions and environment. But when a woman is raped by her husband her dignity is shattered and she is obviously not safe in her own house with her own husband. Thus the Exception is violative of the right to life of the victim.

The fight to criminalize marital rape has been going on for years but the legislation has paid no mind to this matter. There has been more than one instance where the Indian government has been advised by various committees to criminalize marital rape. In 2013, the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) had recommended the Indian government to criminalize marital rape. In 2013, the JS Verma committee which was formed days after the Nirbhaya gangrape case to review criminal laws related to sexual assault had recommended the same. Even after so many recommendations and pleas the legislation has made no such change in the IPC which could give any relief to the victims.

The legislation has given many absurd arguments regarding not criminalizing marital rape which clearly indicates that the legislation is still  grabbed in the chains of patriarchy and it is not even willing to free itself from those chains and protect the women from their offender. It is definitely clear that now its high time that the government should take some steps and criminalize marital rape so that the criminalization can act as a deterrent and protect many women from sexual abuses from their husbands and provide justice to those who suffer this horrific abuse from the man who is supposed to be their protector.

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.

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