By Akshat Tyagi:
As the honourable Minister of State for Home Affairs stood up for ‘clarifying’ that the government did not host any plan to criminalise marital rape since India wasn’t prepared for it, where marriage is still a very sacred institution, he left everyone, from feminists to housewives, absolutely shocked about government’s stand on the subject. We hence chose to step backward on women’s rights.
What ‘preparation’ does law demand to come into force? And how can the ‘sacredness’ of an institution be the reason for lawlessness?
The very approach of treating marriage and acts within marriage as sacred makes these visible atrocities invisible to law.
What about the thousands of untold tales of women where men became their worst nightmares? This may be one of the very factors of National Crime Records Bureau’s recent report indicating very worrisome levels of women suicide, more than half of which consisted of house-wives. Many cases of violence within marriage are never reported, and remarks like the Minster’s have the potential of swelling these latent domestic violence cases by massive figures.
In 2013, NCRB reported over 118,000 domestic violence cases, which made up a third of all crimes against women, far ahead of molestation (70,739) and rape (33,707). The number of reported domestic violence cases also shot up from a mere 50,703 in 2003 before the passage of the Domestic Violence Act of 2005.
In a country where it is believed that subtle beatings by husband are not domestic violence at all, it is hard to imagine the levels of disguised dangers threatening our women. “United Nation defines acts of physical violence by the husband against his wife as pushing, shaking, throwing something at her, slapping, arm twisting, hair pulling, punching, kicking, dragging, beating, trying to choke or burn her on purpose, and threatening her or attacking her with a weapon.”
Also, according to a report, “The United Nations Populations Fund study also found that 60% of men admitted to using violence—kicking, beating, slapping, choking, and burning—to establish dominance.”
Again, do we excuse ourselves for not being prepared?
Two out of five married women have been subjected to spousal violence at least once. And most of these women suffer this violence in silence. Many Indian women do not even have the realization that any sexual act performed against her will, even by her husband, is ‘rape’.
Shouldn’t this be worrying us as a nation? How much longer can we let women suffocate in patriarchal domination that results in rapes and harassment till we acknowledge the problem?
Love can be sacred, marriage can be sacred, so can be sex. But violence or rape cannot.