Pati, Patni Aur Indian Samaj: Why Is Marital Rape Still Legal?
The government needs to understand that laws are enacted in order to create awareness.
“I am on my periods,
Yet, I serve all day,
Scrumptious food at noon,
Forceful embraces at night,
I wail, I scream out of pain,
I won’t call it a rape,
For does that even exist?”
Turning the pages of newspapers, my eyes glued on to an article on right to privacy, the bold words read 'bodily integrity'. I wonder over the moral preachings that often echo in the corridors of an Indian family — when a bride enters the stage of marriage, she not only leaves behind her family, but also her right over her body.
But why? I question.
Maybe because the largest democracy of the world with the most powerful and independent judiciary is still tied to the shackles of an orthodox mindset, failing to recognise the shadow of marital rape.
The Union Government submitted a report to the Delhi High Court mentioning that marital rape may 'destabilise' the institution of marriage.
This reflects the misogynistic mindset of our government. How far have we come from ancient India? Are we still living in a society that holds the dignity of a woman in the hands of few traditions and customs? Doesn’t this amount to legalisation of the oppression women have been facing, instead of eradicating it?
The report points to the misuse of Section 498-A of the IPC, and that there can be no lasting evidence in case of sexual act between a husband and his wife. But a legit question that arises here is that by raising concerns of potential “misuse” can the government protect itself from its own faulty law?
The union report considers that exception 2 of Section 375 may not stop marital rape as not much moral and social awareness exists on the issue.
But the government needs to understand that laws are enacted to create awareness.
Further, recalling the RICE institution analysis of the National Family Health Survey-lll (2005-06), every 6,570 of one lakh women experience marital rape in India. This number includes only those who choose to tell about it knowing there is no law that criminalises it but the rays of hope lies in the act itself.
The power of law and legal rights would enable many silent voiceless women to voice their suppressed suffering.
Recalling the roots of Indian society, the sacredness of marriage. Well, isn't it high time that instead of judging the sacredness of marriage, we must take a break and ask those facing sexual abuses from their husbands, about how sacred they feel their marriage is?
(Sakshi Sundrani is a second year, Political Science (H) student studying in ARSD College,University of Delhi. Views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)
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