oppn parties Forced Sex in Marriage is Nothing But Rape

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  • In reply to a question in Parliament, the government says it is empowered to lawfully intercept, monitor or decrpyt information stored in a computer resource in the interest of sovereignty or integrity of India
  • Police stop a 12-year old girl on her way to the Sabarimala shrine
  • In Karnataka, the JD(S) indicates that it might support the BJP government if it falls short of numbers after the bypolls
  • Congress pips the BJP in local body elections in Rajasthan, winning 961 wards to the BJPs 737
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  • Sources in Shiv Sena say that they might revive the alliance with the BJP if it offers the 50:50 deal
  • A miffed Sanjay Rout of the Shiv Sena says that it will take "100 births" to understand Sharad Pawar
  • Mobile operators Vodafone-Idea and Airtel decide to raise tariffs from next month
  • Sharad Pawar meets Sonia Gandhi and says more time needed for government formation in Maharashtra
  • Justice S A Bobde sworn in as the 47th Chief Justice of India
  • Supreme Court holds hotels liable for theft of vehicle from their parking area if parked by valet, says "owner's risk" clause is not a shield from such liability
  • Finance Minister says she is receiving feedback from many sectors that recovery is happening as there is lower stress
  • Sabarimala temple opens, but police bar the entry of women below 50 years
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says Air India and BPCL to be sold off by March
  • Media person Rajat Sharma resigns as DDCA president
Two Muslim litigants in Ayodhya refuse to accept the Supreme Court order, say review petition might be filed
oppn parties
Forced Sex in Marriage is Nothing But Rape

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
Minister of State for Home Affairs Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary said, "it is considered that the concept of marital rape, as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors, including level of education, illiteracy, poverty, myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs, mindset of the society to treat the marriage as a sacrament." The operative words here are “as understood internationally.” Sadly, the minister did not give us a peek into what he thinks is understood by marital rape internationally.

Under section 375 of the IPC, a rape is mainly defined as a man having sexual intercourse with a woman “against her will” and “without her consent.” How does it matter whether the woman concerned is his wife? Whether in India or elsewhere in the world, no marriage gives the man, or for that matter the woman, a right or a social sanction to have sex on demand. Hence, any forced sexual intercourse between spouses where one of them is not willing has to be considered rape as per the legal definition.

The minister has raised questions about education and poverty to claim that marriage is held as a sacrament. Even if this is true, how does it give the man the right to have sex with his wife against her will? A sacrament is defined as something regarded as possessing a sacred character or an oath or a pledge. The sacred character of marriage, if done under Hindu rites, comes from the seven vows the couple takes in front of the holy pyre. What are these vows? Do they give either of the spouses the right to have sex on demand? In fact, it is the rampant illiteracy and poverty that makes millions of women silently submit to sexual excesses of their husbands without their will as they are too afraid to speak out. They are made to believe husbands are “pati parmeshwar” and it is their duty to submit to their each and every will. This is neither acceptable nor is it mandated by the seven vows. In fact, in the seventh vow, the couple vows to remain friends and cherish each other. Isn’t forced sex an abrogation of this vow, for it neither lets the husband remain the wife’s friend nor does it allow him to cherish her?

Nothing but a parochial meaning and a patriarchal attitude will see forced sex by a husband as his right under marriage. The government’s stand is retrograde. Although there are many sections in existing law to book husbands for forced sex with their wives, namely sec 498A of IPC and under the Domestic Violence Act, they are related to cruelty to women. What is regrettable is that the government is bent on narrowing the definition of rape. In India, wives generally do not come out with complaints against their husband for forced sex mainly due to social stigma. Under these circumstances, the government’s stand will queer the pitch further. The government might next say that divorce is alien to India since marriages are held as sacred. Bonds of marriage cannot be held together by external forces. A husband continuously 'raping' his wife is a lout and should be booked accordingly.