Marital rape is an appalling violation of women’s rights affecting countless women all over the world.
Marital Rape is defined as unwanted sexual intercourse between a man and his wife, which is the vehicle to accomplish the desired result, such as to overwhelm, overpower, embarrass, and humiliate their partner. The lack of consent is the essential element in marital rape and it can be obtained through force, threat of force, or physical violence, or when she can’t give consent. It is a non-consensual act of violent perversion where woman is physically and sexually abused by her husband.
Section 375 of Indian Penal Code
A man is said to commit “rape” who, except in the case hereinafter excepted, has sexually assaulted a woman, it includes all forms of sexual assault involving non consensual intercourse with a woman.
(Exception of Section 375 of IPC) —Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.
As per the current law of India, a wife is supposed to deliver perpetual consent to have sex with her husband after entering into marital relation. Unwilling sexual contact between husband and wife is not recognized as criminal offence in India, whereas in almost every country marital rape is a criminal offence.
Even though India as a nation is based on the theory of equity, even if we celebrate 73 years of Independence, the women in our country are not yet genuinely free and independent, the right a woman has in controlling marital intercourse as a component of equality is still not recognized. They keep on living under the domain of murkiness and dread. It is the sad reality of India.
The UN Population Fund states that more than two-thirds of married women in India, between the ages of 15 to 49 have been beaten, raped, or forced to provide sex. Approximations have quoted that in every 7-8 hours; a young married woman is burnt or beaten to death, or driven to suicide from emotional abuse by her husband. According to a 2018 National Family Health Survey, more than 80 percent of married women between the ages of 15-49 years who have experienced sexual violence reported their current spouse as the perpetrator. The most common form of reported sexual violence was the use of physical force by the husband for sexual intercourse without the consent of his wife.
There is always a fear of retaliation attached to marital rapes, victim feels that if she will go against her husband then he will retaliate in a much more brutal manner. Women who face this kind of sexual violence have no place to go; they cannot complain to their family due to societal pressure on them and also they cannot complain to police because Indian law does not recognize marital rape as crime. Thus, victims of marital rape are condemned to bear the pain in silence and accept this violence as their fate. What our society fails to understand is that living with the perpetrator everyday is worse than the breaking off a marriage. Women often end up choosing survival over their own dignity and self-respect due to this societal pressure.
Lack of education and moral education leads to objectification of women in our society which is one of the major reason for such crime.
Not criminalizing marital rape, effectively means that human dignity can be accorded lesser value in the case of a woman when she is married and it stems from outdated belief of marriage which regarded wives as no more than the property of their husbands. The concept of right to equality stated in our constitution will remain as a dead letter, if women of our country will not have any right over her own body.
Rape is a reprehensible crime whether a woman is married or not. It is a crime against humanity.
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