Marital rape: Centre’s stand in Delhi High Court sparks big debate on social media

Context:

Government of India’s firm stand against making marital rape a criminal offence has sparked debate on social media.

 Centre in its submission to Delhi High Court :

Marital rape is not defined in any statue, while rape is defined under Section 375 of IPC.

“Defining marital rape would call for a broad based consensus of the society.”

“What may appear to be marital rape to an individual wife, it may not appear so to others.

As to what constitutes marital rape and what would constitute marital non-rape needs to be defined precisely before a view on its criminalization is taken.”

“That it has to been ensured adequately that marital rape does not become a phenomenon which may destabilize the institution of marriage apart from being an easy tool for harassing the husbands.

What is martial rape?

Marital rape (or spousal rape) is the act of sexual intercourse with one’s spouse without the consent of the other spouse. It is a form of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Although it was once widely unrecognized by law and society as wrong or as a crime, it is now recognized as rape by many societies around the world, repudiated by international conventions, and increasingly criminalized.

What does the data say?

Out of the total number of rapes reported to NFHS (though it is an informal survey whose premise was to provide anonymity), 97.7% rapes were committed by the people known to the victim, out of which marital rapes accounts for 2/3rd. UN study has established the fact that 75% men want their wives to agree to sex. There have been many heartrending stories of women raped every night, even during pregnancy and child birth. It is a physical as well as mental trauma because the perpetrator is known to the person, often very close. It is a bitter reality even in developed nations.

Why should it be banned?

Marital rape is considered as the violation of Fundamental Right guaranteed under Article 14 of the Indian constitution which guarantees the equal protection of laws to all persons. By depriving married women of an effective penal remedy against forced sexual intercourse, it violates their right to privacy and bodily integrity, aspects of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21, by differentiating them from unmarried women.

But it is prone to misuse?

Proponents of marital rape exemption argue that if legalized, this law is prone to misuse as is the case with The Dowry act. I do agree with the same because it is really difficult to prove the charges of marital rape. It is worse when we rely on the methods like two finger test for proving charges of rape in general.

Here, I would say that every law is prone to misuse, let it be a dowry act or an anti defection law, yet we have to accept that the misuse is at the part of investigation.

Moreover, don’t we have acts like Prevention of Atrocities Act(SC & ST), 1989 and similar laws against discrimination? Aren’t they prone to misuse? Because here also you have to rely on the statement of the victim prima facia. It can also be used to harass someone. Just because of this lame skepticism, we should not try to evade from our responsibility.

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