Sexism in legally drafted laws

The equal opportunities for men and women is the basic fundamental structure of the society. The constitution in India doesn’t provide women with the equal standards recognised by the society. One such thing that is not taken into consideration is marital rape. In India , there is no provision of law that protects married women against marital rape. Marital rape qualifies under sexual intercourse after marriage between the couple without the consent of his spouse. Sexual intercourse by a man with his spouse aged 15 or above even without her consent cannot be termed as rape. Inspite of the recommendation of the united nations to criminalise marital rape, the law of the country argues that the criminalisation of marital rape would be inconsistent with the understanding of marriage in the country. Women choose not to complain against marital rape because of the society which gives their husband the liberty to involve with them sexually whenever they want to. 

“Approximations have quoted that every 6 hours; a young married woman is burnt or beaten to death, or driven to suicide from emotional abuse by her husband”.“The UN Population Fund states that more than 2/3rds of married women in India, aged between 15 to 49 have been beaten, raped or forced to provide sex. In 2005, 6787 cases were recorded of women murdered by their husbands or their husband’s families. 56% of Indian women believed occasional wife-beating to be justified”. Men in the society lives with the mentality that after marriage any kind of sex with the spouse is normal and if done under compulsion cannot be qualified as rape. Most of the men do not want special legal provisions for marital rape because they prefer passive consent of the women instead of denial. The issues of domestic violence against women is developing international attention. In a country with a patriarchal society such as India , women are viewed as the possession of the men after marriage with no control on their very own bodies.

After the 20th century, many countries criminalised marital rape such as US, Malaysia, Thailand etc, but still there are countries in which marital rape has been kept out of the criminal law. “Advancing well into the timeline, marital rape is not an offence in India. Despite amendments, law commissions and new legislations, one of the most humiliating and debilitating acts is not an offence in India. A look at the options a woman has to protect herself in a marriage, tells us that the legislations have been either non-existent or obscure and everything has just depended on the interpretation by Courts”. It is viewed that the idea of martial rape as understood universally cannot be applied in Indian context because of the factors like social norms, poverty, illiteracy etc.

The role of the spouse has been traditionally comprehended as accommodating and as that of a housewife. Sex has been treated as a compulsory component in a marriage. Indian women still dream of being economically independent and being recognised by the society. Marriage represents a bond of respect and love and hence it should not rely on sex.

“It is about the fundamental design of the marital institution that despite being married, the wife retains and individual status, where she doesn’t need to concede to every physical overture even though it is only be her husband. Honour and dignity remains with an individual, irrespective of marital status”.  Every single women in this society have a right to protect her body irrespective of her marital status. The legislature in this country pays no heed and ignores the right of a woman to protect her body from sexual orientation by not criminalising it. It is so disheartening to be a victim of rape and domestic violence by own husband. Aside from legal jurisdiction we basically require general awareness among all the men in the society to treat women as equal partners and respect their decision because they are the only culprits of this crime. It will  also help to develop society as a whole.

Marital rape is a highly epidemic issue, it is not just for the benefit of husband or for the fulfilment of husband’s needs and desires but it is a brutal act and an injustice to every women which needs to be criminalised. It is hard to remain unconcerned when addressing the problems related to women’s rights and sexism in legally drafted laws. “Men have the social, economic, moral, political, religious and social responsibility to combat all forms of gender discrimination”. In our country’s legal system, it’s not just the marital rape but also there are many laws which are either not taken into consideration or the law contains sexism in it such as Hindu law of inheritance, Adultery, Age of marriage etc. Therefore, the government should return to their duties to make a positive move to promote and ensure gender equality. Strong enactment needs to take place along with the execution of certain laws which are required to be monitored frequently. 


      “Remembrance.” India Law Journal,

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