This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Shruti Aurangabadkar. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Does Marriage Entitle Someone To Have Sex With Their Partners Without Mutual Consent?

More from Shruti Aurangabadkar

By Shruti Aurangabadkar:

In a country where rape is still considered a matter of shame, met with suspicion rather than empathy, the law believes that rape is not possible in a marriage. The institution of marriage, it’s believed, implies that there is no need for consent between the participants. Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, DMK MP in Rajya Sabha, claimed that according to a UN Population Fund report, 75 per cent of married women in India were subjected to marital rape. Looking at the patriarchal Indian society and how female sexuality is a myth to many, it’s not surprising that this law enables violence against women.

Source: Wikipedia
Source: Wikipedia

It raises the question whether marriage means being entitled to have sex with your partner, irrespective of their wishes and desires? The official answer appears to be yes, in support of the current Indian Penal Code, which exempts marital rape from being considered as rape—as long as the wife is more than 15 years of age. The female age of consent in India, determined on the basis of comprehension and understanding, is 18. So it’s legally possible to have sex with a girl who is under the age of consent, without any sort of repercussions.


When recently asked about the UN Committee’s recommendation to criminalise marital rape in India, the minister of state for Home, Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary, said that looking at the context, the international concept of marital rape “isn’t applicable in the country”. Factors such as “level of education, illiteracy, poverty, myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs, the mind-set of the society to treat the marriage as a sacrament,” were cited as justifications for Indian marriages to presume sexual consent. One would assume, since there was illiteracy, poverty and all of the problems he set out, that it would be the responsibility of the government to protect any would-be victims of this circumstance. Apparently not.

Justice Verma Committee report set up in the aftermath of the Nirbhaya case suggested the removal of this exception, and even then the government hadn’t acquiesced, saying that such an amendment would ‘weaken traditional family values’. ‘Traditional family values’, probably being a reference to the absence of agency of women in the past; how they historically went from belonging to their fathers to their husbands but never to themselves. Statements like these, which normalise non-consensual sex in “special circumstances” are a symptom of the bigger problem, of ‘rape culture‘ in the society.

And it’s ‘values’ like these that result in events like German Professor rejects Indian student due to the country’s rape problem‘, that equally evoke both fury and embarrassment. India is currently the 4th in terms of Highest Rape Crimes in the world, with approximately a rape reported every 22 minutes. When laws which are meant to protect the vulnerable actually create loopholes for the ones with power, it is indisputable that India needs to take a long hard look at what ‘traditions’ it wants to protect, and why.

Sign this petition asking the government to to criminalise marital rape.

You must be to comment.
  1. Aditya

    One has to question the credibility of these reports. Although I agree with the points raised by author but I don’t believe in generalising this concept of inhuman tendency called rape through out our country. A whopping 75℅ means every 3rd girl out of 4 who is married is raped. Seriously can you believe this?
    Either review these UN reports thoroughly before writing and advertising India as a country of rapists or have a cup of coffee and think about something else to write.

  2. Pankaj

    No marriage does not entitle someone to have sex without mutual consent. Marital rape is a horrible crime. That having been said, the question of misuse is a real issue which many feminists avoid or deflect. Once you bring in such a law it is very likely to be misused for settling marital disputes as is already the case with laws like the dowry law, 377 etc. If this happens it will end up trivialising rape and society will start taking it less seriously. We are already seeing this with increasing number of cases of ‘rape on the pretext of marriage’ filed by women after a bad breakup. And yet feminists oppose any move to bring in a misuse provision that would deter false allegations using the plea that this would deter women from filing cases.

  3. thesteelguy

    This is a comment from my friend which I thought to be quite worthy of sharing-

    “According to Feminazi ki Awaaz 3 times out of 4 whenever your Daddy was being romantic with your mother, he was committing marital rape. Along with your Uncle, your male siblings and cousins. If not, you must be really lucky to be in that 25%! Hey but wait a minute! How come the wife of your milkman seems to be happy in her marriage? Surely he must be raping her. He’s the common 75% kinda guy. In fact his moustache proves he’s a rapist.”

  4. aakash

    what is need of marriage ?if there is no sex .option of frienship is always available .acc to high court ruling defintion of marriage is

  5. Voice of reason

    While the article is decent, what i would like to really stress is, is there a way by which you can distinguish sex with mutual consent and rape ( i am speaking from a scientific perspective). The reason i ask such a questions is, that if you actually do have a scientific method of establishing if the female was forced or not, then go ahead – make marital rape a crime ( which it is). However, in case you do not have any such methods available then please let us take a moment to think about the repercussions it may have, false cases of marital can wreak havoc on the life of the groom and his family, I think all of us would have read at least a few articles on how dowry laws have been mis-used over and over again, how people have committed suicides over the same issue. While I of course believe that any form of rape whether marital or not is extremely heinous, but passing a law without ensuring that it cannot be easily manipulated, will result in greater social problems

More from Shruti Aurangabadkar

Similar Posts

By Shabeena Anjum

By Martha Farrell Foundation

By Samaira Guleria

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below