Marital Rape
Society and Taboos

Marital Rape: A Crime That’s Not Illegal

If we go through Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), it defines, rape as all sorts of sexual intercourse with a woman, against her will, without her consent, with coercion, fraud, or at a time when is not sober or sane. But our Indian society doesn’t understand the concept of ‘will’ and ‘consent’ when it comes to women. This ‘consent’ thing becomes totally negligible if the woman is married. Maybe, therefore, people don’t believe in marital rape.

After all, once a woman gets married, she automatically gives her perpetual consent to her spouse. Isn’t it?

However, what’s more, shocking is Exception 2 of Section 375, which spares non-consensual sexual intercourse between a husband and wife over fifteen years of age. This indirectly immunizes unwilling and non-consensual sex. But many countries in the world have criminalized non-consensual sexual activity between a husband and wife. Those countries consider it as marital rape and a serious crime.

While the people in India advocate for women’s safety and empowerment, India is among 36 countries that haven’t criminalized marital rape. Seems like in India it’s legal to rape a woman and force her to provide sex, provided you are married to her. Even in this 21st century, about two-thirds of women go through marital rape. The sad thing is, our society doesn’t find it wrong.

Perhaps, the entire concept of sexual intercourse needs to be re-defined. Isn’t it the act wherein both men and women engage happily and with their consent? Isn’t it supposed to be pleasing for both individuals? If yes, then why are women expected to provide sex to their husbands, no matter what?

Not criminalizing marital rape in India hints, a woman’s consent ceases as soon as she is married. Seems like the rape laws in India are deeply impacted by the patriarchy. It clearly tells a man that in order to rape a woman without going to jail you need to be married to her. This is because, even if she says yes or no, you have her perpetual consent. Perhaps, we should now call marriage a lifetime license to engage in sexual activity irrespective of a woman’s will.

Isn’t it strange that the country which worships Goddesses and emphasizes women’s safety, turns its back if she is married? If this is so, then why should women expect happiness and love in their married life?

What if a woman is married to a brutal man who neither respects her nor cares for her? What if the man forces himself on her every single day? What do you think that woman would feel? Will she be able to smile from all her heart and dedicate herself wholeheartedly? 

People either fail or don’t want to understand that marital rape exists in this world. Most people think, “He is your husband and it’s your duty to give all sorts of happiness to him. If not with you, with whom he’s going to have sex?”

At this point, we overlook the concept that how can marriage negate a woman’s dignity and modesty? Is safety to a woman’s modesty limited only till she’s unmarried? Whether or not, a woman is married, engaging in forceful and unwilling sex will undoubtedly cause her lifetime trauma.

Think about living with someone who violates your dignity, under the same roof, and then society expects you to show love to that person. 

One can never feel the pain of going through such a heart-wrenching scenario. Society is evolving day by day and so the laws need to. Else all these women empowerment and women’s safety measures will go into vain.

Also read: A Cup Of Tea

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