Criminalisation of marital rape: A mango man’s take on it

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By Sreyashi Mazumdar

While bidding adieu to her daughter, tears streaming down her eyes, she said, “Dear, do not go against your in-laws despite unsound circumstances, bear with whatever they say and ask you to do. Look after your husband’s needs, do not refute his commands, his well-being should be your penultimate goal,” and her newly -wed daughter baulking to leave her bonds, gradually trails down a road, heading to a strange alley, tangling with a completely different lifestyle.

Hesitant she was, but as his better half held her hands, unraveling an implicit intent of never forsaking her, they set off on a newfangled journey and lived happily ever after.

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But, what if this wouldn’t have been the case? What if he would have turned out to be a demon? What if his carnality would have bereaved her of her sanity? What if the tears trailing down her eyes while leaving her parents would have embarked on a never-ending journey? What if she would have been raped within the four walls of her so-called ‘heavenly abode’…by her better half…her husband?

Considered as one of the sanctimonious institutions, Marriage has always been a hot potato amongst Indians, they say- Shaadi ka laddu khao toh pachtao aur na khao toh bhi pachtao (You will repent if you get married, and you will repent even if you don’t get married).

Holier-than-thou, this institution celebrates the union of two individuals; individuals who might have never known each other as in the case of arrange marriages and when individuals might have known each other for a considerable stint as in the case of love marriages.

However, the entire gamut of marriage is not just constricted to the big fat Indian weddings and the subsequent brouhaha it involves, but it also brings forth a string of issues, ranging from dowry to marital rapes.

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“It is considered that the concept of marital rape, as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors e.g. level of education/illiteracy, poverty, myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs, mindset of the society to treat the marriage as a sacrament, etc,” Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary, minister of state for home affairs, said in a written statement.

Now, Haribhai’s statement might have bamboozled millions but there are people who still think that marriage being a consecrated institution, shouldn’t be rebutted, one shouldn’t challenge its sanctity despite issues like domestic violence, marital rapes creeping into the matrimony.

Trailing on a myriad of opinions flocking in, especially with the kind of deliberations on the issue of marital rape being put up on news channels, NewsGram conducted a vox populi and tried to collate public opinion on the same.

“Personally I believe marital rape should be made illegal. If marriage is a legally binding contract, then all acts within marriage should also come under the scrutiny of the law,” says Devjani Bodepudi, a writer.

Tuning in to a similar line of thought, 55-year-old Atashi Chatterjee fleshed out her views, “A wife confides in her husband; she looks up to her husband and relies on him completely. If the husband forces himself on her despite her unwillingness, then that’s nothing less than rape; the wife inevitably gets subjected to a psychological trauma, a mental block. I think it’s high time that a person committing such a hideous crime should be penalized.”

Taking a slightly different note, a lawyer at a OICL Devpurna Talapatra brought forth the probability of the law being misused if marital rape gets a legal recognition, “It’s easy and righteous to say that yes, of course, marital rape should be criminalized right away, but the probability of it not being accessible to its target group and rather being misused makes one wonder. Mooting on the same, she added, “It is yet another one of the necessary risks we have to accommodate for the greater good, much like the often debated Section 498A.”

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Vexed by the usual male bashing, 40-year-old Anwar Hussain talks of the probability of a husband being raped by his wife, “It’s not always the husband who forces himself on his wife, there are incidents where the wife forces herself on her husband or rapes him – if that’s how we choose to define it. Therefore, it shouldn’t be all male bashing.”

“Marital rape should be penalized but do you really think that would solve the problem?” asks newly-wed Bramhomoy Bose, an employee at an IT firm. “How will a woman prove her stand under circumstances wherein her husband passes of forceful sex as a conjugal sex?” he wonders.

Scrolling through these opinions one might ponder upon the brutality and a sense of helplessness attached to the issue of marital rape, but the entire ambit of the issue doesn’t boil down to a mere black and white inference.

Lampooning the perpetrators isn’t the only solution; one requires digging into the deeply entrenched retrograde mindset borne by the people. It seems that our hidden carnal instincts are traversing the unconscious and subconscious layers of our minds and gradually creeping into the conscious, thereby spilling out snippets of barbarism.

One has to pull the plug on the parochial ideologies, generally, borne by individuals and strive to refurbish the same. Cracking down upon the root cause propelling inhumanity might bring forth a relevant change, thus putting an end to any form of violence.

Some tweets on marital rape, people mooting their point on social media