Libertatem Magazine

Marital Rape: Cry of the Indian Wives

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[mks_dropcap style=”letter” size=”52″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#8224e3″]I[/mks_dropcap]n this era of modernization, India is found to be struggling with end number of cases where a women is subject to rape by her husband which is termed as Marital Rape, i.e. the rape committed by the person to whom the victim is married. Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code defines the term ‘rape’. This section has been subject to recent amendments, but still after such reform, marital rape continues not to be a crime in India. However it can be termed as a prosecutable domestic violence under sec 498(A) of the Indian Penal code and can be considered under Protection of Women from Domestic Violence. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 has been interpreted in the manner that a wife is duty-bound to have sex with her husband, and divorces have been granted to husbands whose wives refuse to have sex on grounds of “mental cruelty”. Hence, as observed no action can be taken on marital law until further ramifications on the said Act been taken into consideration.

The Criminalization of the Marital Rape was also among the suggestions of the Verma Committee, a three-member panel appointed to suggest amendments to India’s sexual assault laws. The government rejected this proposed change, leaving it out of the draft bill it then presented to Parliament. Why? The reason given by one of the reports depicted that if marital rape is considered as a crime under the provisions of law then it would be contrary to the beliefs of the whole concept of family harmony. But this simply outrages the rights of the woman who has been the victim of rape by her own husband which need to be pondered upon by the Legislative by enacting such provisions thereby enabling the victims their right.

There have been plethora of cases wherein wives are brutally harassed, one of the cases was filed many years after the marriage, where the victim (Rashmi) believed that frequent vaginal bleeding after intercourse was a normal phenomenon. Married at the age of 17, her husband would assault her six to seven times a day. At the age of 19, when she conceived her first daughter, she was forced to have intercourse till the eighth month of her pregnancy. However, things became worst when barely 15 days after she had a C-section surgery, her husband assaulted her so badly that it led to the rupture of her stitches. She wanted to raise her voice against her husband but was mocked by her mother. “This is normal. Husbands don’t rape you. They are allowed to do all that,” she was told. Today Rashmi is 27 years old with 2 daughters, fighting a case under domestic violence in Delhi’s saket court. Further, it can be witnessed in this case that even the mother of the victim is not supporting her daughter for her claim. Hence, her husband is not to be blamed alone, it is the elder of the family who is equally responsible for her condition.

There are instances where the women were subject to rape as the recent Nirbhaya rape case, wherein the perpetrators though got punished for the heinous crime committed by them. But this raised a very concerning issue as to the women who were raped by their own husband i.e. having intercourse with them forcefully without their consent, what remedies can they avail or whether those victims have any recourse against their own husband in the court of law? The media coverage of the issues of women being raped in the society though attain some sympathy in the public sphere but when Rashmi was raped by her own husband, (the only man who was her support in every situation) where were the exclusive footage of such heinous crime or rather the question to ask at this juncture is whether marital rape is crime in itself?

The victim was stopped from raising her voice on the grounds that society doesn’t consider it a crime and the woman has to do whatever pleases her husband and even she herself was aware about the fact that law doesn’t provide protection to such acts. Who will give them justice? The court? The government? The law makers of our country, who claim that marital rape is not rape until the girl is 15 years old, expect in cases of legal separation? These questions remained unanswered to the point where the construction of such utopian society takes place where the country stands united against such practices and every women has been provided the right to live their life in the manner they seek and have the liberty to practice such rights even if violated in any court of law. But the main issue for consideration is when would the construction of such utopian society began as to the principles of natural justice interpreted in our Constitution also protects the rights of the female counterpart but denies to accept them. So the need of the hour is to bring such interpretation to the reality of the presently situated society and thereby guaranteeing the rights of those victims and supporting their claims to the level that no person dare to outrage the modesty of a woman for that matter even wife of such person.

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