oppn parties Forced Sex in Marriage is Nothing But Rape

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Forced Sex in Marriage is Nothing But Rape

By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2015-09-22 18:01:56

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.