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Here’s Why Our Govt Thinks Marital Rape Shouldn’t Be a Crime

“What may appear to be marital rape to an individual wife, may not appear so to others.” 

Updated
Women
3 min read


The Delhi High Court is currently hearing a petition challenging Exception 2 to Section 375 and Section 376B of the IPC because it excludes marital rape as a criminal offence.
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“What may appear to be marital rape to an individual wife, may not appear so to others”.

That's what the Union of India said, in a written submission, to the Delhi High Court, which is currently hearing a petition challenging Exception 2 to Section 375 and Section 376B of the IPC because it excludes marital rape as a criminal offence. The submission, submitted by Monika Arora, the Central Government Standing Counsel, throws up a barrage of absurd reasoning.

Among others, the Union of India’s written submissions supporting Exception 2 imply that a wife always gives consent to sexual relations in a marriage and bizarrely argues that a wife needs the assent of everyone in society to give legitimacy to her claim of being raped in marriage.

Here are a few excerpts of the government’s submission in the Delhi High Court.



Excerpt from the Union of India <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1HsQbGlNpEfLUhOOW8yZEU1bWs/view">submission</a> in Delhi High Court
Excerpt from the Union of India submission in Delhi High Court
(Photo: Maanvi/The Quint)
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‘May Destabilise the Institution of Marriage’

Utilising an oft-repeated argument against marital rape, the government has submitted that marital rape shouldn’t become a criminal offence, since it may harm the very institution of marriage — citing misuse of Section 498(A) of the IPC. (That’s the offence criminalising cruelty to a married woman.)



Excerpt from the Union of India <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1HsQbGlNpEfLUhOOW8yZEU1bWs/view">submission</a> in Delhi High Court
Excerpt from the Union of India submission in Delhi High Court
(Photo: Maanvi/The Quint)

Wait, Does Consent Not Exist in a Marriage?



Excerpt from the Union of India <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1HsQbGlNpEfLUhOOW8yZEU1bWs/view">submission</a> in Delhi High Court
Excerpt from the Union of India submission in Delhi High Court
(Photo: Maanvi/The Quint)

The government’s reasoning here presumes the wife’s consent to sexual relations in a marriage for every sexual act. Why else would it argue that the judgement that a marital rape has taken place rests with the wife?

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Need Lasting Evidence for Marital Rape



Excerpt from the Union of India <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1HsQbGlNpEfLUhOOW8yZEU1bWs/view">submission</a> in Delhi High Court
Excerpt from the Union of India submission in Delhi High Court
(Photo: Maanvi/The Quint)

The Centre appears to have ignored the lack of “lasting evidence” when rape occurs in a consensual relationship, or in a case of date rape. Why should marriage be any different while evaluating whether rape is a criminal offence?

Attitudes Must Change



Excerpt from the Union of India <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1HsQbGlNpEfLUhOOW8yZEU1bWs/view">submission</a> in Delhi High Court
Excerpt from the Union of India submission in Delhi High Court
(Photo: Maanvi/The Quint)
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‘This Country Has Its Own Unique Problems’



Excerpt from the Union of India <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1HsQbGlNpEfLUhOOW8yZEU1bWs/view">submission</a> in Delhi High Court
Excerpt from the Union of India submission in Delhi High Court
(Photo: Maanvi/The Quint)

Need Moral and Social Awareness



Excerpt from the Union of India <a href="https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1HsQbGlNpEfLUhOOW8yZEU1bWs/view">submission</a> in Delhi High Court
Excerpt from the Union of India submission in Delhi High Court
(Photo: Maanvi/The Quint)

What’s the Marital Rape Case About?

The Delhi High Court is hearing a challenge to Exception 2 to Section 375, which says that “sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape.” The petition in this case has been filed by an NGO, RIT Foundation, along with the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) and a victim of marital rape.

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