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Marital Rape: Calling Every Man a Rapist Not Advisable, Says Smriti Irani

Speaking in RS, Irani said she could not elaborate on a subject that was, at the time, under judicial consideration.

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India
3 min read
Marital Rape: Calling Every Man a Rapist Not Advisable, Says Smriti Irani
i

"To condemn every marriage in this country as a violent marriage, and to condemn every man in this country as a rapist is not advisable in this House," Minister of Women and Child Development Smriti Irani said on Wednesday, 2 February, while responding to an additional query on the issue of marital rape in the Rajya Sabha.

Communist Party of India MP Binoy Viswam asked, in the Rajya Sabha, if the Centre had taken note of Section 3 of the Domestic Violence Act (definition of domestic violence) as well as Section 375 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Following Irani's comment, Viswam stressed that he never made the assertion that every man was a rapist, and requested the government to collate data on this issue and submit it to Parliament at the earliest, news agency PTI reported.

As per the report, Irani stated that Rule 47 of the procedures in the Rajya Sabha did not permit elaboration on a subject that was, at the time, under judicial consideration.

This comes at a time when a Delhi High Court bench is hearing the final arguments on a batch of petitions, which states that the marital rape exception violates Article 14 (Right to Equality) and Article 21 (Right to Life) under the Constitution, and therefore, needs to be struck down.

"Protection of women and children in our country is a priority for all but yet again, let me reiterate, to condemn every marriage in this country as violent is not advisable," Irani stated on Wednesday.

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What Else Happened in RS?

The Union Minister, reportedly, went on to state that the government endeavoured to protect women in this country with help from state administrations.

At present, over 30 helplines and 703 'one-stop centres' are functional across the country, which have assisted over 66 lakh women and five lakh women, respectively, PTI reported.

Further, BJP leader Sushil Modi enquired if the Centre was in favour of criminalising marital rape, as "it will end the institution of marriage."

The BJP leader said that it would be tough to determine the wife's consent, PTI reported. To this, Irani reiterated that she could not comment on the matter.

Meanwhile, DMK leader M Mohamed Abdulla questioned the government on the measures taken, at college and school levels, to spread awareness on domestic violence.

The minister iterated that the 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao' programme was being conducted at district levels, with capital support being given to every district-level officer.

"I have appealed to every member of Parliament that in the DISHA meeting that you undertake under your leadership in your district, you can bring up issues with regards to the provision of more and more advocacy of women's rights," she said, according to PTI.

Why This is Relevant

The issue of marital rape is presently before the Delhi High Court, with the petitioners challenging the constitutionality of the exemption from prosecution granted to husbands.

Section 375 of the IPC defines the offence of rape. While this Section has been amended over the years to remove archaic concepts, emphasise the importance of consent, and cover all relevant sexual acts, it still retains an exception for non-consensual sex by a husband with his wife.

Earlier this month, while hearing the final arguments during a hearing, Justice Rajiv Shakdher had said he didn't understand why we continued to "walk on eggshells" regarding the issue, as the relationship of a husband and wife was not relevant to whether a sexual act amounted to rape – consent was the crux of the matter.

(With inputs from PTI.)

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Topics:  Rape   Parliament   Smriti Irani 

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