Why is Marital Rape still legal in India?

By Thursday, March 31, 2016

This is not a funny article; this is not the kind of article that will make you feel refreshed. This is the kind of article that will make you think about the kind of country you live in. So, if you are not ready to take the truth, I suggest you stop reading, right here and right now.

Marital rape is rape where the perpetrator is the victim's spouse

There are 196 countries in the world, and out those, only 36 countries have stated that marital rape is legal. Sadly, India is one of those. 

Marital Rape was declared as a crime in most of the countries back in the 1970s, then what is holding India back in 2016? 

This is the same country where 93 women are raped every day, and 1 out of every 12 women is raped by her own husband. 

1 out of 12? Do you realize how big that number is? How many friends do you have on Facebook? 400, may be? At least 100 of them might be married. So, according to the statistics, at least, 8 women you know have been raped by their spouses. 

Why should marital rape be illegal in the first place?

I asked around 10 people I know about marital rape - 2 men and 8 women. Only 1 person out of them knew what exactly marital rape was and why it should be illegal. 

And that is not the sad part. The sad part was that, the only person who said marital rape should be illegal was a man, not a woman. 

I realized that most of the people don't even understand marital rape. According to us Indians, when a girl marries a guy, she becomes a 'property' of that guy, and he can do anything he wants. When it comes to non-consexual sex, it doesn't apply to husbands. Well because they are husbands and according to our elders, wives are supposed to agree with everything their husbands say.

But here is something you should know - 

Rape is rape. It doesn't matter whether you are married to her or not married to her, if you do anything to her when she says 'no', you are raping her. 

Why don't women report when they get raped by their husbands?

I put this question forward to the 8 women who I initially asked about marital rape. None of them are married, but according to them, if they were ever raped by their husbands, they wouldn't even tell their families because they know their families would take the husband's side. 

When you get married, you are supposed to agree with everything your husband says. It doesn't matter how educated or financially independent you are. He is your husband; you are supposed to sort out everything according to him. 

This statement left me shattered. If so many women really do not want to report marital rape cases even to their own family members, then the statistic that 1 in every 12 married women is raped by her husbands is wrong! The number can be anything between 2-12, and we will never know unless and until every woman starts coming forward. 

Why don't Indians think Marital Rape is a crime 

Now, this is because of all those old-world values we still believe in. 

When Ram returned with Sita to Ayodhya, she was asked to take a 'agni pariksha' (made to walk on fire) to give a proof of her faithfulness. And even though she passed the test, she was banished from the Kingdom by Ram. 

Seriously, dude?

You go to the other part of the country to rescue your wife, which by the way, involved killing an immortal guy, but when you finally get back with your wife, you banish her because she spent nights outside without you? Seriously? 

Did Sita iMessage Ravana to take her on a trip to Sri Lanka? It was not her choice !

What about Draupadi? Firstly, she was made to marry five men and then raped in front of many? The only guy who had the guts to save her was Lord Krishna, who by the way, did not stop the guys trying to rape her, he just bought Draupadi more time by getting her a longer saree

And that is exactly what is wrong with the Indian society. With these kind of values being taught to us, I am not surprised that an array of men don't even respect their own wives. 

Isn't domestic violence same as Marital Rape 

I assure you its not. Domestic violence is when a woman is physically or mentally tortured by her husband. The woman might or might not be forced to have sex. 

The main grounds where domestic violence separates from marital rape is the punishment

If someone is prosecuted for a domestic violence case then they face a maximum imprisonment of one year, and a fine of 20,000 INR. 

But, if someone is booked for rape, then they face lifelong imprisonment. 
I strongly feel that marital rape should be made illegal in the country with the same punishment as the other rapes. Because, as I said before - a rape is a rape. And one year in jail for domestic violence, does not do any poor woman justice.

Why wouldn't Indian government declare Marital rape as illegal 

The list of countries where marital rape is still illegal is the who's who of the third-world and backward countries. There are countries like Syria, Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and I am almost offended to see India's name on the same list. 

But, the reason why India is still far away from making marital rape illegal is because of politicians like Maneka Gandhi, who are made the head of Women and Child Development section but they have no idea how to use their position. 

When she was asked about Marital rape last year, this is what she said 

"India cannot have a law to criminalise marital rape, citing various factors such as level of education/illiteracy, poverty, myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs, mindset of the society to treat the marriage as a sacrament."

What? So, you are a cabinet minister and you would not even try to change the laws? Even Shashi Tharoor is better than you. He might be failing but he is trying everything he can to get the Section 377 bill to pass in the parliament. You, Mrs, Gandhi are a disgrace


What can you do about it

Educate people about marital rape and let them know that no woman can be forced to do anything, even when its her own husband. Most importantly, empower the women in your family and always support them, so that even if they face a horrifying thing like this, at least they would have the guts to come forward and share it. 

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  1. This is a well-written blog post, but there is one large error. I think you mean to ask why is marital rape still legal, not illegal. Legal means it is okay. Illegal means it is against the law. Otherwise, very well-stated article!

    1. Eeeeeee

      Thanks for pointing that out Brita! I forgot to add the 'not' :D

  2. Definitely a great write up.. YEs to all that you have said .. BUt ths problem with India is that it has a completely different ball game..

    Firstly its the way our society works, secondly people itself, even if the law is passed How or WHo is going to Police it ..

    Sadly rules in our nations are made AFTER there are loopholes created.. Moreover the people who are supposed to make the rules , majority of them are CRIMINALS themselves, Those who are left are uneducated.

    Then comes the religious side of it tooo.. where we have GODDESSes whom we pray and what not yet the way we treat women in the country , or girls in our own homes is ridiculous.

    I do hope that things change...

    1. Thats the problem Bikram, even when rape is legal, half of the women don't want to come forward. But, at least half of them do. And by adding these laws, the government can empower women and do their part.

      I am sure there are many strong women who would want to come forward, but right now they cant't because the law is not on their side.

      And yes, education is of key importance here. It won't just help decrease crimes in India but people would know more about their rights if they were educated. For this, the government needs to make the central schools more affordable and have a better standard of teaching in there

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  4. yes...law should be there like the bomb called sec 498 a....wife says rape...husband goes to jail....vow ...how simple....

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