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Why You Need To Join The Battle To Criminalize Marital And Male Rapes

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By Ritica Ramesh:

There is something to be said about the Indian law. While a beautiful piece of literature, it is somewhere stuck in a time warp that doesn’t take the realities of today into account.

A couple of months ago, while I interned for a short period of time at an IP law firm in India, I picked up a book detailing the IPC and its clauses. As I rummaged through a couple of articles, I came across Section 375 which defined and described the heinous sexual offence, rape. As I stared at the page, a million thoughts rushed through my head. The wording was unbelievable, the gender bias-unacceptable, and the lack of rational reasoning was nothing short of distressful. “A man is said to commit “rape” if he…” Let’s just stop right there and analyse these words. In a country populated by 1.25 billion inhabitants, the very possibility of a woman committing rape is not acknowledged. A rape victim is a rape victim regardless of what sex they are. Male survivors already face a massive lack of legal aid and are deafened by social stigma. The Indian Parliament has quite irrationally declared that women are incapable of being perpetuators simply because rape arises from pure patriarchy and male privilege. Just a couple of years ago, a man in Dehradun claimed to have been gang raped by a group of woman who also recorded the act. The incident garnered very minimal media attention, and to this date, there is no report about the outcome of the case. Under the present scenario, the Indian law stands biased towards one gender and is unfair.


Moving ahead I noticed this – Exception#2 of the IPC states that “Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.” The Justice Verma Commission did suggest that marital rape be recognised as an equally atrocious crime. This, however, was swiftly rejected by the Parliament on the grounds of culture and tradition. The Parliament jointly stated that “for ages, the family system has evolved and it is moving forward. Family is able to resolve the problems and there is also a provision under the law for cruelty against women. It was, therefore, felt that if the marital rape is brought under the law, the entire family system will be under great stress and the Committee may perhaps be doing more injustice.”

Voluntarily committing to a marriage doesn’t tantamount to one involuntarily agreeing to acts of sexual assault. Marital rape could be happening to someone close to you and you might be aware of it, but the law offers no recourse. Marriage should not be allowed to become a legal license for rape.

We live in the 21st century and as we adjust to changes, our judicial system needs to adapt to them too. It is unnerving that we turn a blind eye to several survivors of sexual abuse every single day simply because age old laws do not permit them to seek justice. The question we must all ask ourselves is why we allow and give the government the right to deny us of certain rights even when we’re aware of its repercussions.

I’ve decided to do something about this. I urge you all to sign this petition that I’ve started to rectify this injustice. Each signature counts and the click of a button could save somebody’s life. Let’s make a change, for I hope to wake up to a safer, more accepting tomorrow.

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  1. Dark Knight

    We realize that women rape men, but why don’t we recognize the marital rape of men?

    1. Ritica

      We’re asking for exception# 2 to be scrapped. Once that has been scrapped, marital rape will he identified as any other type of rape. And since we’re asking for male rape to ALSO be recognized, marital rape of men can also be filed if the law does change.

  2. Monistaf

    @Ritica – Thank you for this insightful article acknowledging the gender neutrality of rape. I am not surprised by the lack of comments or the number of shares because of the overwhelming feminists (both male and female) view that acknowledging male rape or victimization subtracts from the female victim complex. We encourage reporting of rape when the victim is female, there is outrage and now a days even an attempt to publicly shame the perpetrator, sometimes even before he is convicted in a court of law, but are so blindsided that we fail to recognize that there are just as many, if not more boys and men that are traumatized by rape and have absolutely no legal recourse to seek justice. Even young girls being victimized by other girls or women have no legal approach to justice and must suffer the trauma and shame in silence because, as you have rightly said, in India, a woman simply cannot be charged with sexual assault. I have not researched the laws in other countries, but I am ashamed that the law diminishes the pain and suffering of one half of the population influenced by an ideology from the past century. If history has one lesson, it is that “If you do not feel their pain, it is inevitable that you will feel their anger”. May be, this type of obvious injustice manifests itself in our day to day experiences on the streets and elsewhere.

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