MARITAL RAPE- Is marriage a contract which acts as curtain for HUSBAND’S SEXUAL OFFENCE????

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MARITAL RAPE

Marriage is a sacrament bond between two individuals who consensually agree to replace their individual ‘me’ with ‘we’. As far as ‘we’ is concerned, it basically focuses on all dimensions of equality. As far as Indian society is concerned, the reality is a bit too far from the above mentioned philosophical position. Gender inequality has been rampant in our society. This article mainly deals with one of the dimensions of inequality and that is- marital rape. All the religions consider marriage as a bond of truth and that of affection. No religion supports the exercise of sexual superiority by male being a part of such an institution. The biggest misfortune of our times is that we have not been able to register this principle in any law book of India.The legislature and judiciary have collectively failed to come to the rescue of women in India. The patriarchy has been so deeply rooted in our society that even the government has outrightly went on to deny considering marital rape as an offense in India.

Marital rape is a non-consensual act of sexual violence perpetrated by a husband against his wife. Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code basically defines rape and Section 376 has punishment provisions for the rapist. Section 375 has an objectionable clause which states that sexual intercourse by a man with his wife is not a rape under any case, provided wife is above 15 years of age. It clearly means that for married women of 16 years of age or above there is no term like ‘Rape’ in the Indian legal system. The saddest fact is that the logic seems to be defeated by patriarchy and hypocrisy. The woman loses her right to consent to her husband to marriage. It’s difficult to justify that how can a woman have different rights before and after marriage. This clearly is an abrogation of article 14 of the constitution which clearly states equality before the law. The legal age for marriage of girls in India is 18. The same legal system has no provision for any protection of married women above 15. This is one of the biggest flaws in Section 375. This is nothing less than a double standard in our legal system. Everyone will easily admit this fact that rape is a heinous crime then how does its definition change after the marriage. It is beyond the human logic to label rape as an act of offense only after seeing that if any marital relation exists between the victim and the perpetrator.

In a survey conducted by UNFPA(United Nations Population Fund) in India, nearly 66% of the married women made an admission to the fact that they have been subjected to forced sexual intercourse at least once in their married life. This greatly unravels the gravity of the situation. Legislators have denied considering marital rape as an offense by saying that the present socio-economic condition, family structure and literacy rate in India are not suited for taking such a step.They say that it is not right to interfere in a sacrament institution like marriage.

Various reasons have been given by certain intellectuals to justify the stand of the government. Some say that it’s difficult to prove a crime which has been committed within the four walls of the bedroom. A logical counter for this is that does the provability of an act define its criminality. It’s sometimes difficult to prove daylight murder, then will an act of murder not be an offense. Some fear that it might be misused by women. If the same logic is to be followed the section 498 A  of Indian Penal Code must be abolished. Laws undergo modification from time to time to suit the needs of society and justice delivery system. The same applies here. First make a law then only we can modify it further to get rid of loopholes. The ground of misuse can’t justify legislature’s inaction in this case. I do not deny above concerns as they are genuine but they should be redressed instead of resorting to inaction. Some even suggest that those women facing sexual violence can seek recourse under Section 498 A of Indian Penal Code. This the most absurd remedy. Under Section 498 A of IPC, husband or relatives of the husband shall be punishable if they subject a woman to cruelty like driving her to commit suicide and resorting to physical and mental violence. This section is basically a recourse for those women who have been tortured for dowry by their in-laws. It’s difficult to understand the logic behind prosecuting a husband for physical violence when he is guilty of rape. Some even suggest divorce as an alternative recourse. The logic which these people put forth is that a woman who has been raped and mentally harassed by her husband would never like to stay in that bond. The absurdity of this logic lies in the fact that a man can easily walk free after divorce. What about the punishment for which he is liable after perpetrating a heinous crime like rape. It appears that marriage is such a pure institution in our society that a man can rape a woman after marriage and can walk free once the woman decides to break this sacred bond. Verma Committee, formed after Nirbhaya rape case, recommended for the criminalisation of marital rape.

Unless and until we seriously take note of the trauma which rape victims have to go through we will not take this problem seriously. Apart from physical injuries, it leads to anxiety, depression, negative self-image and suicidal tendencies. It may also have long-term gynecological effects like miscarriage, STD, and infertility. The need of the hour is that politicians,b law making bureaucrats, legal experts, NGOs, social scientists and the members of civil society come together and be a law-making process to safeguard women from marital rape. It will be a tough task but it needs to be done else the notion of gender equality will only be theoretical in our society. Only the law making institutions are not at fault. Indian society has seen women’s role as submissive one and that of a home-maker. A great misconception that sex isobligatory in a married life still exists. The economic dependence of women on men in our society is another big problem. This dependence deprives them of the respect which they greatly deserve. Their problems are not heard of in the society. The biggest fault lies with males of our society. We live in a society where movies promote the objectification of women. We live in a society where all the atticates and manners are only meant for women. Such has been the degradation of thinking that men consider sex as a method to assert their supremacy over opposite sex. UN too emphasized that 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 protect women’s human rights.Men have the social, economic, moral, political, religious and social responsibility to combat all forms of gender discrimination. The problem lies in the root. As rightly said by our honorable Prime Minister it’s high time that we start educating young boys of the society. This will make the roots of future generation ethically stronger. Our society will consist of men who will not shy away from giving women their share of respect and their right to consent. Till then women will continue to face tough times. Women should become more aware of their rights. A survey finding says that 56 % of the married Indian women considered wife-beating justified. Sorry to say but the present state of our society prompts me to think that marriage is a service sector product of our economy which every single man can afford to have because they need not pay for this instead they get paid. Once men have this product then they have a license to get their sexual demands fulfilled at their will.They need not doubt the guarantee for this product after all it is being endorsed by Government of India.

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