The Curious Case Of Marital Rape

By Karthik Ganesh:

Marriage is that intangible institution that unites the souls of two compatible human beings and becomes the harbinger of hope, love and ecstasy in their lives. Marriage is a united journey undertaken by two people which only goes wrong when one starts to control it. In the context of the Indian society, it is believed that an ‘ideal wife‘ is one who sacrifices everything to ensure that her husband lives a peaceful life. Today sadly, this archaic and appalling ideology has given birth to one of the grave manmade societal cataclysm: marital rape.

Marital rape is a non-consensual act of coitus where the wife is subjugated to physical and sexual abuse in order to fulfil the carnal desire of a pervert husband. According to the UN reported statistics, around two-thirds of the women population in India between the ages of 15 to 50 have endured the pains of getting beaten up, raped or physically abused by male members of the family.

This alarming statistic should have ensured the government waking up in support of the women race and guaranteeing that the perpetrators are put behind the bars. Instead, the government policy as per status quo believes that it is completely legit for a husband to forcefully abuse his wife sexually provided she is over 18 years of age. The recent amendments to the rape law, even though broadened the ambit of the issue to include both the genders, sexual assault and child sexual abuse conveniently forgot to condemn marital rape as a crime as per the recommendation of National Council for Woman(NCW).

This unfathomable decision by the government gives us an idea about the perceptions that prevail in our society. In our patriarchal system of society, it is the women who are downgraded to a supporting role where the onus is on them to become the backbone of a family by adhering to the family’s norms. The all-powerful male shall only be the bread winner and his demands have to be taken care of by his wife, synonymously a slave. This demeaning mentality has led to a state of discrepancy between the progresses of the two sexes.

People often preach that a matriarchal system of governance is the way to counter this problem of equality of respect. But again the stakeholders involved, miss the point of a dominant party having the power here. The need of the hour is to understand that we must graduate to an equal system of governance where each gender has equal access to any resource available. This move shall ensure the cleansing of the irascible social ideologies and pave the path for clamping down on marital rape and ensuring that it is recognized by the judiciary as a heinous crime where a victim undergoes physical and mental trauma due to the misdeeds of a person with whom she shares her livelihood.

Marriage is not an agreement that gives the husband the right to make his wife wilfully bow to his needs. It is a sacred bond that in essence portrays the unified expedition undertaken by the pair wherein each member has an equal opportunity to follow their dreams.

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