Reasons Why Marital Rape Should Be Recognised as a Criminal Offence

Debate on marital rape continues as it fails to get regarded as a punishable offense

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Marital Rape
Recognition of marital rape as a crime. Pixabay
  • The grievous danger caused by marital rape is unable to gain recognition
  • Women should be granted rights to handle situations of marital rape
  • Illiteracy, poverty and religious beliefs are not an excuse for committing marital rape

July 25, 2017: Most of the countries have regarded marital rape as a criminal offense but India has still not taken this action and due to this, the debate about marital rape continues.

The future for women and their rights in India seems bleak as the grievous danger caused by marital rape is unable to gain recognition.

But what exactly is marital rape? It occurs when a man imposes sexual right on his wife by use of force, without taking her consent, or threat of force. In a country where domestic violence is a punishable offense, why isn’t domestic sexual abuse a crime? Just as domestic violence destroys and hurts the body, marital rape destroys and harms the soul. Rape is rape no matter who commits it. It could be your boyfriend, your uncle, your husband or a stranger. Any force experienced to indulge in sexual activity should be made a punishable act regardless of the relationship with the rapist.

Also Read: Women should not Silently Face Atrocities and must Speak up about Issues like Marital Rape, says Actress Katrina Kaif

Maneka Gandhi, The Union Minister for Women and Child Development, says that “marital rape”  is inapplicable in a country like India since illiteracy, social customs, religious beliefs, poverty is widespread here.
This implies that it is acceptable for a man to force his wife into sexual activity because he is poor or illiterate.

Many of us often see our domestic help with a black eye, and when asked, she would say, husbands, are allowed to hit their wives as it’s the norm. The same norm permits husbands to rape their wives, without protection, whenever they come home drunk.

An Indian Marriage is more like a sexual contract as it provides the husband a right over his wife’s body and gives him ownership rights over the wife. This implies that a married woman has no right over her own body. Refusing to recognize marital rape as a criminal offense is equivalent to spreading the belief that it is acceptable for women to be raped as long as the rapist is her husband. If we want to develop our country and spread literacy, we need to grant women the control of their lives where it is her right to say no to her husband for sexual intercourse or pregnancy without being penalized or punished for it and commence help for abused women. It is necessary for the myth of “wifely duty” to end because sexual activity must take place with mutual consent and pleasure.

Marital Rape
Marriage is no excuse for rape. Wikimedia

A few years back, newspapers carried a tale of a woman aged 26 who came back with severe injuries from her Bangkok honeymoon as her husband had violent sex with her. In order to achieve equality between men and women, it is essential to grant rights to women over their bodies, recognition of forced sexual activity in her marriage, and raising their voices against it. The government must provide help for abused women.

A Statistical report of the study conducted by The International Centre for Women (ICRW) in eight States: Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh covered 3,158 number of women and 9,205 number of men aged between 18-49. The sample represented various castes, income groups and religions. The NFHS report revealed that the majority of rape that women reported was within the marriage and only 2.3 per cent of rape reported by women to the interviewers of NFHS was by other men.

Not criminalizing marital rape is either to degrade the real bonds and affections that keep marriages held together in spite of differences and disagreements or to believe that marital rape and sexual abuse in marriages is a common affair. A positive step in this direction will give women a sense of security and a redressal mechanism in situations of marital rape.

-prepared by Harsimran Kaur of NewsGram. Twitter @Hkaur1025