“Rape is the crime, typically committed by a man, of forcing another person to have sexual intercourse or any other form of sexual penetration with the offender against their will”.
We generally associate this term when the man involved is a stranger. But what if it’s the person within the home, such as one’s spouse? Marital rape, the term used in such cases, is non-consensual sex in which the perpetrator is the victim’s spouse. The force could result in intimate partner violence, an abuse of power, establishing dominance and control over the other.
So what’s the big deal? Isn’t sex a vital aspect in marriage? As simple as it may seem so, “Marital Rape” is a form of violence and could greatly affect the partner involved, both physically as well as emotionally. The Government of India recently made a statement that marital rape cannot be criminalised in India as marriages are sacred in the country. A host of debates and discussions have sparked out, with many a women’s rights activists and jurists being irked by the statement.
Well, I do agree that marriage is sacred. It is sacred because it brings together two entirely different individuals to live under one home. It is sacred because it speaks of mutual respect, understanding, trust and equality. If these are prevalent in a marriage, yes, I would call it a sacred relationship. But if there is dominance and suppression of the other partner, the whole sacredness aspect is a big question mark.
The Justice Verma Committee report says that any sexual contact against a women’s consent is sexual violence regardless of the relationship of the accused to the women- whether husband or Boyfriend. So just because she is married, she doesn’t have to suffer an aftermath of rape.
The next big question in almost all minds- What about false claims? Could it be misused?
- Despite a domestic violence act in the country not many women still come out and file a case against their spouses (for social and economic reasons). Keeping this in mind, would there really be a large amount of false claims coming up? I wonder.
- The onus on such cases is for the victim to prove the deed. And in the case of a marital rape, such would be difficult as there would be “zilch” number of witnesses. How many women would actually be able to prove their rape? I wonder.
- Almost all laws have the potential to be abused, and this is known fact among the legal fraternity. Whether it is theft, adultery, murder or cheating. We don’t really scrap these laws, do we
Having a marital law, may not be the ultimate solution to the issue of marital rape. Nevertheless, it is a much needed thing, to bring about a change in the mindset that prevails in society. It could bring out a message, loud and clear, that marriage does not give the man a license to exercise his dominance over the woman. It would help us take that step ahead in bringing about a positive change in our patriarchy society, of bringing about equality and respect in a relationship.