Marital Rape is Not Marital Sex but Forced Sex in Disguise

Posted by Ashly Abraham
November 16, 2017

Self-Published

 

While living in today’s time, surrounded by inhibitions, social taboos and social pressures, raising one’s voice or standing for a rights based perspective, can sometimes raise eyes. For that matter, marital rape is not new and needs no new introductions.

On the other hand, issues such as this, needs to be re-introduced in a varied manner, over and over again.

Raising our voice against marital rape is not only about injustice against a woman but also for thousands of women who silently bear the brunt of this inhuman act. And why do they suffer in silence?

Well, that’s quite simple. The image of marriage being a sacred institution and blessing, would be the first reason. By default, after marriage, the rights of a woman gets subsumed by the rights of her husband and she is expected to worship or adore her husband. So, then how can she raise her voice, against a person who takes the default role of decision maker and head of the house, after marriage? Through this, indirectly, the concept of marital rape gets lost automatically. An automatic transmission of husband’s role as head of the house strips off the existence of his wife’s identity and freedom. And in many cases, her sexual freedom too. The concept of a wife’s consent, is assumed to have simply vanished, on entering into marriage.

I always ask, ‘Well, does she really, cease to exist as an individual after getting married?’ And over the years, this question has perplexed me more, when I received this question in it’s statement from, from many educated elders, friends in my social circles.

The Effects of Pre-defined Gender Roles In The Bedroom

On the one side, we try to portray marriage as the most sacred union in the world. And I am sure, most of us have grown up, hearing to this. And, the roles of ‘Head of the house’, ‘breadwinners’, ‘master’  is also, fed into us, right from childhood. So what happens because of these inculcated social customs? Well, for one thing, such pre-defined gender roles and titles actually take away the ‘equality’ , and ‘equal spaces’ in any marital relation, for that matter.

Just to introspect further on this, do such roles and titles promote healthy, meaningful conversation of sex , sexual health, reproductive health etc. between the partners, the way it should have been? And for a marriage to be equal, both persons involved need to decide together. Chances of content and satisfaction in a married life are always high when such pre-defined gender roles or titles don’t exist.  Expectations of the man being in control, and having power of all the decision making, would simply curb free dialogues from taking place. And such powers would pass from the dining table, to the living room and finally into the bedroom as well.

Come to think of it, how many married women have actually talked about marital rape? Perhaps in a few surveys and studies.

It is a crime that needs to be criminalized, everywhere. Because a crime is a crime. And this act, violates the individual and fundamental rights of a person. Spousal rape survivors can be sometimes more psychologically traumatised. And living in constant fear and shame combined with keeping quiet about the rape, also leads to the breakdown of marriages. And it would be more like a silent, invisible force.

Ofcourse the present critique is that, criminalization of marital rape would alone destroy the institution of marriage. But what about, the silent rape that slowly kills the marriage? the silent abuse that poisons the actual stand of a marital relation? Is it okay to pass on this tradition of values of  patriarchal mindset, alone to our children?

Protecting one’s culture and preserving it, is fine. But in doing so, if a person is violated at this cost, is it justified?

The Way Forward

Times have changed and what was acceptable a few decades ago, is not necessarily, acceptable today. Even now, the debate continues on the exemption (2) of  Sec 375 of the Indian Penal Code, which doesn’t acknowledge sexual intercourse within the institution of marriage without consent as rape. And this debates continues on with child marriages as well. The same question is applicable here as well; where does that leave child brides? And should the institution of marriage be protected for keeping social customs intact or the rights of child brides be looked into?

The criminalisation of marital rape can be a start, as a system of prevention and protection of rights. At the same time, what will play more in the long run, is the  sensitization of the general public, societies, families etc. on individual rights, women’s autonomy, consent to sex and sexual and reproductive health. Innovative campaigns are the need of the hour, focusing on every member of the society and not just judges, lawyers or counselors alone. It is time, stereotypes are broken at every angle.

Sex, Marital Sex and Rape

Marital rape exists in a way, when sex is projected as sacred, within the institution of marriage. That is why, there will be many, who protests the discussion of marital rape and prefer to address it as marital sex as something, that is personal, not public and therefore, should be left alone behind closed bedroom doors.  For that matter, sex shouldn’t even be projected as sacred , outside the institution of marriage, also.

Why shouldn’t sex be seen as a sacred activity or reserved only for married adults? Okay, supposedly, sex was indeed a sacred activity, that was only between two partners in a marriage, then why is it a reason for sexual abuse or marital rape? Why is it used as a tool for personal satisfaction of one person and not for both the partners involved in sex?  

Inculcating the idea that sex is sacred or ‘behind the bedroom door only’ talk , often from childhood, only creates more inhibitions about sex.  As a result, honest conversations never take place, not even between parents and their children. And how easy would it have been, if such conversations took place? I’m sure the number of women suffering in silence would have gone down or spoken up about it.

Marital rape is not marital sex. It is forced  sex. And forced sex is rape. Of course, scenarios may differ here. But that does not mean, the violence of marital rape is not a reality.

 

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