Forced Intercourse In Marriage Not Rape, Says Delhi Court: How Low Can We Stoop?

Posted on May 12, 2014 in Gender-Based Violence, Society, Taboos

By Anshul Tewari:

Under the Indian law, marital rape is not a crime. The implications of this regressive law were seen yet again when a Delhi court acquitted a man accused of raping his wife, and stated that forced intercourse with a woman does not amount to rape if she is married to the accused.

“The parties being husband and wife, the sexual intercourse between the two does not come within the ambit of the offence of rape, even if the same was against the will and consent of the victim,” Additional Sessions Judge Virender Bhat said while acquitting Vikash.

[blockquote source=”DNA India”]According to the prosecution, the wife claimed Vikash sedated her and took her to the office of the Registrar of Marriages at Ghaziabad in an intoxicated state. He got the marriage documents signed by her March 4, 2013. Later, Vikash raped her and then abandoned her, it said.

The woman filed a complaint at the Baba Haridas Nagar police station in southwest Delhi in October 2013. “Thus the prosecutrix (the wife) and the accused (Vikash) being legally wedded husband and wife, the prosecutrix being major, the sexual intercourse between the two, even if forcible, is not rape and no culpability can be fastened upon the accused,” the court said in the order delivered May 7. (source)[/blockquote] India stands in-line with a handful of countries, including China, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia when it comes to the law around marital rape.

After the infamous Delhi gang-rape in 2012, the Verma Committee, a three-member panel appointed to suggest amendments to India’s sexual assault laws had strongly suggested criminalizing marital rape. The government rejected this proposed change from the bill it presented in the parliament then.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal India, “A panel of lawmakers who opposed the move argued it “has the potential of destroying the institution of marriage,” according to a report submitted to Parliament earlier this month.” 

“If marital rape is brought under the law, the entire family system will be under great stress,” adds the report.

Marital rape laws in India have been widely debated and talked about, but with little understanding from the Government and law makers. Rape, in any scenario, cannot and should not be legitimized.

India’s long history of husband-worship and patronizing of wives has often led to commodification of women in marriages. Our thriving, regressive culture ensures that in a marriage, the husband has the higher authority and a wife must only take care of the husband and his family. Even as the discussion on rape and sexual assault grows in the public media, the discussion around marital rape and domestic violence remains a far cry.

A husband does not have the right to force sex on her wife, without consent. This should be a non-negotiable.



 

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