“Her friends used to tell her that it wasn’t raped if the man was your husband. She didn’t say anything, but inside she seethed; she wanted to take a knife to their faces.” – By F.H. Batacan.
According to Indian culture, marriage is a holy bond between a husband and a wife. And there is a belief that marriage is the implied consent of both husband and wife for sexual intercourse. There are times when a woman says NO, and the value of that NO is none, just because they are “married.”
Marital Rape and Indian Penal Code, 1860
Marital rape is a severe issue in most of the countries and is still legal. India is one of those countries where marital rape is still legal because of the beliefs that Indian people follow. According to Indian ideas, the wife has to fulfill all the needs of the husband as and when he desires and to take the family forward. Domestic Violence is an offense in the eyes of Indian law, which is merely restricted to physical and mental abuse. Laws against sexual harassment and abuse of a wife are nowhere to be seen in Indian Law.
In the Indian Penal Code, 1860, rape does not include marital rape because, in earlier days, women were treated as a husband’s property.
Also, as per the 2nd Exception of Section 375 of the Code, if a person is having sexual intercourse with his wife, who is not below 15 years of age, with or without her consent, then, in that case, it is not marital rape. The exception is a clear violation of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. As per Article 14, every citizen is provided equal protection from the law. But in the case of rape, women are differentiated based on marriage, and married women are not given equal rights before the law, in case of marital rape. Article 21 of the Indian Constitution is violated by this exception of Section 375 of I.P.C. According to Article 21, every human being has the right to lead a life with dignity. Also Right to Privacy is one of the most important rights provided to every citizen of India by birth, which is violated by this exception.
A new bill has been endorsed by the National Commission of Women to make changes in the respective laws related to sexual harassment against women and children. It also has a suggestive point that mentions marital rape to be recognized as an offense. Marital rape has been criminalized in many countries like U.S.A..S.A., UK, Canada, Australia, etc. They indicated that marital rape is a violation of Human Rights. There is still an ongoing debate on the matter in many countries, including India.
India has, with time, abolished various practices against women, it’s high time that marital rape should also be criminalized, and women get equal treatment before the law, without violation of their rights. To fight patriarchy and the institution of marriage is the biggest fight that we all have to fight to bring the change in the laws.