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The Hardships of Sexuality: Marital rape, violence and humiliation

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By Shilpika Srivastava

In the light of continuously rising crime graph against women, government’s remark – ‘concept of marital rape cannot be applied in India as marriage is treated as a sacrament or sacred as per mindset of the Indian society’ – is not shocking.

Yes, it is not shocking! In India, where women are victimized at every step by local goons, eve teasers and even by family members, Minister of State for Home Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary’s comment does not come out as news to many Indian women.

His statement, “It is considered that the concept of marital rape, as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors, including level of education, illiteracy, poverty, myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs, mindset of the society to treat the marriage as a sacrament,” reveals the insensitivity of Indian government towards the mental and physical trauma that women go through by getting raped by their own husbands.

In January 2013, RSS Chief, Mohan Bhagwat, agitated women by saying, “A husband and a wife are bound by a contract which says – you (woman) look after the household chores and satisfy me, I (man) will take care of your needs and will protect you.”

In May 2014, a man accused of raping his wife flew free because a court of the national capital did not find the act to be within the ‘conforms of rape’. While acquitting the husband, additional sessions Judge Virender Bhat said, “The parties being husband and wife, the sexual intercourse between the two does not come within the ambit of the offence of rape, even if the same was against the will and consent of the victim.”

If such kinds of remarks come from the judiciary and government of India, is there a chance that women will find anything shocking?

Numbers don’t lie

Just a few months back, a research done by National Family Health Survey (NFHS) revealed that sexual violence is grossly under-reported in India. It revealed that husbands commit a majority of acts of sexual violence in India, and just 1% of marital rapes and 6% of rapes by men other than husbands are reported to the police.

A study, conducted by the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) and United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA), threw some insight on the violence against women. The survey showed men admitting to having forced a sexual act upon their wives/ partners at some point in their lives.

In the present day, studies indicate that between 10% and 14% of married women are raped by their husbands. The incidents of marital rape ascend to 1/3rd to 1/2 among clinical samples of battered women. Sexual assault by one’s spouse account for approximately 25% of rapes committed.

Need for criminalization?

Indian cinema that beautifully encapsulates the idea of the ‘sacrosanct’ institution of marriage, seems to be nonexistent and even contrary to the reality of Indian women’s experiences.

Being one of the most common and obnoxious forms of masochism in Indian society, marital rape harbors behind the rigid valance of marriage.

The irony is that despite innumerable amendments and law commissions, the most disgusting and humiliating act of marital rape is not considered as a crime in India. And, if somehow a woman is able to firmly stand against the injustice, the issue of penalty remains adrift in the darkness of legal skepticism. What she is left with, in the end, is to protect herself from her own partner and believe that the legislations are either unreal or vague.

Section 375, the provision of rape in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), gets life from age-old disbeliefs.  It mentions, “Sexual intercourse by  man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape.” However, Section 376 of IPC does provide punishment for rape. But, the section mocks at the trauma of marital rape victims. It states, “The rapist should be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than 7 years but which may extend to life or for a term extending up to 10 years and shall also be liable to fine unless the woman raped is his own wife, and is not under 12 years of age, in which case, he shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 2 years with fine or with both.”

The social stigma

The first year of her marriage, was a dream-come-true for Arti (name changed). Yes, her husband had issues with controlling his anger, however, nothing seemed overtly outside the norm.

In the second year of marriage, Arti went through the worst violence she could ever imagine in her life. When she was not able to stand her husband’s continuous aggressive demands, the “wrapping up” was way more horrifying.

“Aarti was my younger sister. Her husband would thrash her, beat her and would ask her to ‘serve’ him every night. She told our parents that she wanted a divorce, but fearing societal humiliation, the parents forced her to stay in the marriage,” said Arti’s sister while speaking to NewsGram.

“I remember one day when she called me and cried her heart out. She said that her husband banged her down from the edge of the bed where they were sitting. He took her down to the floor, and forcefully had sex with her, even though she was yelling to get off and stop,” the sister shared.

“For her, it was easy to take her own life than to go through the horror every night,” her voice trembled as she spoke.

No doubt, there are so many Artis in India who are still living the horror, all thanks to the social dogma.

The biggest point is that it is the society that fails to understand that rape, in any form, is an act of complete humiliation, ignominy and disobedience rather than an archaic theory of penile/vaginal penetration.

An incomplete definition of rape asserts the notion that rapists consider rape as pure sex and not an act of violence.

The law abroad

Marital rape comes under the purview of offence and is completely illegal in the entire 50 states of the US. The criminalization of marital rape in the United States began in the mid-1970s. By 1993, marital rape became a crime in the entire country, under at least one section of the sexual offense codes.

In New Zealand, Section 128 to the Crimes Act, 1961, Sub-section (4) states, “A person can be convicted of sexual violence in respect of sexual connection with another person notwithstanding the marital status at the time of the  sexual assault. Further, the fact that the parties are married or have been in a continuing relationship will not warrant a reduction in sentence.”

Countries like Canada, France, Sweden, Israel, Norway, Soviet Union, Denmark, Poland and Czech Republic also see marital rape as an illegal act.

The answer is still unheard

Marriage does not function solely on sex. Our MPs need to understand that the sanctity of marriage is preserved by mutual understanding and respect. India not only needs a broader perception when it comes to women rights, but also needs a judicial awakening.

As the United Nations says,  “Educating boys and men to view women as valuable partners in life, in the development of society and the attainment of peace are just as important as taking legal steps to protect women’s human rights,”  men hold the social, economical and moral responsibilities to combat each form of gender discrimination.

For a country which thrives on deeply ingrained traditional and religious pigeonholes and witnesses repugnant forms of machismo, it is high time that the letter of law alters as soon as possible.

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Young Scientist Develops Panic Button to Tackle Domestic Violence

If a distressed woman presses the button then it would alert the police or people nearby about violence

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A panic button has been developed to tackle crime against women. Pixabay

By Vivek Tripathi

The panic button, devised by an electronics and communication engineer, is set to play an important role in tackling domestic violence. On being pressed, it would alert the police or people nearby about violence.

Developed by young scientist Anjali Srivastava, the device uses GPS (Global Positioning System) technology.

Anjali, who has made several such tools, told IANS one to five emergency panic buttons could be added to it. “It operates in a 100-metre range and is too tiny to be noticed. Its battery last nearly 8 months. Women can keep the button that costs Rs 2,500 anywhere in the house as per their convenience,” she said.

It also has an audio-recording option, which could later serve as evidence. It could be used by housewives and girls living in paying guest (PG) accommodations.

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The button uses GPS to track the location of the victim. Pixabay

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“This type of innovative devices helps prevent crime against women,” said Gorakhpur scientific officer Mahadev Pandey.

“Anjali has made many such devices in the past, including anti-rape jeans and shocking gloves. This device is very important for the safety of women. It will prove to be very effective, especially in the coronavirus time,” said Shyam Cherasia, research and development in-charge of Ashoka Institute of Technology and Management.

GPS, a radio navigation system, allows land, sea, and airborne users to determine their exact location, velocity, and time 24 hours a day, in all weather conditions, anywhere in the world. (IANS)

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Why Violence In USA – No Basic Flaw

Any incident in the USA whether big or small gets worldwide publicity almost instantaneously, just like the current George Floyd issue

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The USA
Even after President Trump condemned the George Floyd incident, USA continues to burn. Pixabay

BY N.S.Venkataraman

Any incident in USA , particularly adverse incident, whether big or small, gets world wide publicity almost instantaneously. This is mainly due to the fact that USA is recognized as a rich country with super power status and known for significant advancement in variety of fields. Such news is followed by debates and discussions in the world media, with some pledged critics stating with glee that such adverse incidents clearly show that USA is a troubled society. Is that really so ?

Why shoot out incidents ?

In the recent years, many shoot outs have taken place in USA in universities, malls and other public places, when number of innocent lives have been lost. Shoot outs have been carried out by individuals for one reason or other and even due to psychic problems of individuals . These individuals hail from all background including young and old persons, white or black persons and there is no uniformity in the background, that point to any particular cause or reason. The detailed investigation that follow such shoot outs do not seem to explain the reasons adequately well with clarity .

It is generally said that the liberal gun policy and the prevailing gun culture in USA is the primary reason for such shoot outs and violence. Most of the Americans possess guns and rarely anyone amongst them indulge in such practices. If the violent prone person would not have a gun, he can use a knife or any other weapon. Are the causes for the violence as simple as gun culture ?

No evidence of widespread black-white conflict :

Now, the case of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white officer pressed his knee into his neck has caused widespread anger across the country. Obviously, the white police officer is a cruel person and should be punished severely. Even while President Trump has condemned the incident, protestors burned businesses in Minneapollis. They smashed police cars and windows in Atlanta, broke into police headquarters in Portland and chanted curses at Donald Trump outside the White House.

Protest USA
This sad incident should not be misinterpreted as result of conflict of interest between the white and black citizens in USA. Pixabay

This sad incident should not be misinterpreted as result of conflict of interest between the white and black citizens in USA. While some protestors turned violent, there have been number of other protestors who conducted themselves peacefully and with dignity , holding placards and demanding justice for George Floyd. Of these protestors, many of them are white , brown or black Americans. Certainly, there is no racial conflict issue involved in the George Floyd murder but only the stupidity of a violent prone police officer was seen.

Is media playing responsible role?

While the sad incident happened, the media in USA played what seem to be a negative role by prominently showing the photograph of the crying George Floyd being attacked by the white police officer, which has whipped up passion and disgust all over USA causing widespread unrest. It is not the case that media should remain silent without revealing such bad news but the case is that media should be aware of the consequence of highlighting such negative photographs that could lead to greater violence and unrest. In USA, media claims that it has the liberty and right to show , speak or criticise any event as per the prejudices and priorities of the editors and journalists.

Can one say that the freedom of media is being abused and freedom without responsibility can only lead to violence, just as the George Floyd incident show. Many seem to think that the media sensationalise such violence issue, without counselling peace and harmony and discuss the causes in dispassionate and constructive manner. Such positive approach of media could have prevented the violence that followed George Floyd murder.

A tolerant country :

George Floyd incident has created an impression all over the world that USA is a country under the boil. This certainly is not so. There are many civilized and sane voices in USA who rarely get adequate coverage in the media and their civilized thoughts are not adequately publicized for the benefit of the country.

Today, one cannot but deny the fact that U S A is the most tolerant country in the world. People from countries with various background seek migration to USA and think that they would be privileged to get US citizenship. This is mainly due to their confidence that they would get fair deal in USA and the law would protect t their interests.

The USA
Any attempt to describe USA as a country under boil after the George Floyd issue is a mischievous and motivated attempt to discredit USA. Pixabay

Today, USA is essentially described as a migrant country with people visiting USA as students , job seekers or immigrants and most of them seeking to stay in USA life long by getting citizenship. Any attempt to describe USA as a country under boil after the George Floyd issue is a mischievous and motivated attempt to discredit USA. This is very unfair.

Violence everywhere in the world :

Animals try to over power other creatures for self protection and for their feed. Therefore, violence is an essential part of animal’s life. In the case of human beings ( who are supposed to have sixth sense, which animals do not have) ,violence and anger seem to be there in the mindset , which are revealed due to reasons such as prejudices , hatred etc. This is a common trend all over the world including USA. It calls for enormous efforts amongst individuals living anywhere in the world to silence the feelings of anger and violence in the mindset and this is what religions are supposed to aid individuals in achieving such state of mind.

Also Read: What Will Be The Future of Malls and Film Theatres In Post-Pandemic World

Like any other country, in USA too, it requires leaders and scholars advocating peace and harmony as way of life and they should get prominent place to mould the society. It is the duty of the media to identify persons of such ethical and moral stature and publicise their thoughts and preachings for overall betterment of the society. The recent violence in USA due to the death of George Floyd do not indicate any basic flaw in the American society.

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Lockdown 2020: Prevention or punishment?

What are women actually fighting against?

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Crime against women continues during lockdown. Wikimedia commons

By Muskan Bhatnagar

What are the crimes against women? Who are the people committing these heinous crimes? What punishment do they deserve? Can these be committed even during the lockdown? We owe so many answers to the women of this country. The world is facing an international emergency right now with most of the nations being locked down, India being one of them. However, does the lockdown prevent these horrifying crimes?

Between 1 April to 15 April, when India continued to be in lockdown, the Delhi Police received 21 reports of rape.“In some cases, it was rape by known persons including uncles, friends, and neighbours. We are analysing this data,” a senior police officer was quoted saying. Besides these, 31 cases of molestation were also reported in two weeks. Even though there’s a 42% drop in the Delhi crime rate, but a crime against women hasn’t completely stopped.

A 53-year-old visually challenged woman was allegedly raped inside her flat by an unidentified man in Shahpura, Bhopal in the early hours of 17th April. The woman works as a manager in a state bank and her husband was stuck in his hometown in Rajasthan due to the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown.

 

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Not only in India, but domestic violence cases have been reported all around the world during lockdown. Pixabay

How shameful can it get further? If the women of this nation can’t feel safe in these times of national emergency, when the whole country is supposed to be indoors, then will they be safe ever?

The ladies who are lucky enough not to be raped are facing domestic violence. Domestic violence increases whenever families spend time together, even during festivals. Then a lockdown that began due to the apocalyptic scenario of death and disease, is the exact opposite of a happy occasion. Why do we expect abuse to not take place?

According to the data by National Commission For Women, 257 cases of crime against women for 10 days starting from 23 March to 1 April of lockdown were recorded. On the other hand, 116 cases were recorded for seven normal days from 2 March to 8 March. The ten days of the lockdown also saw an increase in domestic violence cases which rose to 69 as of 1 April, as compared to 30 cases between 2 March to 8 March.

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Some reports suggest that in India, alcohol consumption by men increases violence against women. Therefore, an increase in the number of domestic violence cases and other crimes against women could be induced by confinement, stress, and unemployment which further results in the consumption of alcohol. There is also a view that the joint family system could protect Indian women against domestic violence.

The lockdown might protect women from Coronavirus but will fail to protect them from all sorts of violence.