“Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion, or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life,” according to the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) recommended to the Indian government in 2013 that marital rape be made illegal. The same was suggested by the JS Verma Committee, which was formed in the aftermath of widespread demonstrations over the December 16, 2012 gang rape case.
Women will be safer from abusive spouses, will be able to obtain the care they need to recover from marital rape, and will be able to protect themselves from domestic violence and sexual abuse if this law is repealed.
In a society where a woman is raped every 16 minutes and an Indian married woman is 17 times more likely to be sexually abused, the necessity for active involvement in the legalisation of marital rape is critical. Even both the Justice Verma Committee and the 42nd Law Commission Report have recently advocated for the criminalization of marital rape, the only remedy now available is the civil remedies outlined in the Domestic Violence Act of 2005.
The judiciary must recognise marital rape as a crime under the Indian Penal Code, especially given that the pandemic induced lockdown has resulted in an increase in domestic and sexual assault charges against women.
The judiciary must recognise marital rape as a crime under the Indian Penal Code, especially now that the pandemic-induced lockdown has resulted in an increase in domestic and sexual assault charges against women.
The abolition of Section 375’s Exception 2 and the punishment for marital rape being equal to that stipulated under Section 376 will eventually lead to the comprehensive growth of our criminal justice system.
Rape is defined as “non-consensual sexual intercourse with a woman” under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code. It does, however, exclude the husband from any criminal penalties if he forces intercourse on his wife without her consent if she is beyond the age of 18.
The executive and legislative branches of government have behaved similarly to the judiciary. More than a hundred countries have made rape in the bedroom illegal. However, India stands apart among the illustrious group of around 32 countries where marital rape is not illegal. Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Botswana, Iran, Nigeria, and Libya are among the league’s illustrious members. In India, successive administrations have demonstrated neither willingness or interest in recognising women’s right to their bodies after marriage.
The fact that it was a rape remains unchanged regardless of the perpetrator’s identification or the victim’s age. A woman who is raped by a stranger keeps the memory of a heinous crime with her; on the other hand, a woman who is raped by her own husband lives with her rapist and is forced to sleep with him. It is past time for Indian women and their human rights to be taken seriously, particularly by the judiciary, which has vowed to preserve everyone’s fundamental rights.
Therefore, it is high time that the legislature should take cognizance of this legal infirmity and bring marital rape within the purview of rape laws by eliminating Section 375 (Exception 2) of IPC.
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