So the other day I was googling about various human rights violation in our country. To my horror, I came across not only one but a variety of evils. From human trafficking to extra-judicial killings to ill-treatment of women, every phrase had a different story in itself, but there was one phrase that disturbed me the most,”marital rape”.
At first, I seriously couldn’t understand the crime. I wondered myself, how can it be rape if the two people involved are married? But after constant thinking, going through a lot of court judgements, and understanding the rationale behind keeping it as a separate category under rape, I finally began to understand.
I know it seems really confusing and nonsensical to some of us. But that’s because of the perspective from which we are looking at the crime. (I won’t be gender neutral here because as far as I followed various events and judgments, mostly men were the culprits.)
Men after marriage begin to think that they own another person. That’s where the fallacy lies, between prerogatives of marriage and the boundaries of self-dignity of an individual. The conflict between these two leads to bickering and fights between couples, but if resolved carefully can result in a peaceful and happy marriage.
Alas! The women, on the other hand, are also confused between the above two different aspects of marriage. Generally, they don’t raise their voices and suffer in silence because of the misunderstanding. A girl is always taught to offer herself to the husband’s wishes. She is made to live as per the whims and fancies of the husband.
Men usually being the breadwinners and providers to the family, think of their wives as inferior beings. This inferiority leads to the subjugation of women in the marital equation. She not only loses her reproductive rights but also her bodily rights. She can’t refuse sex if her husband demands it, no matter how tired or sick she is. It’s the highest form of hypocrisy for the fact that marriage is supposed to rest on the pillars of understanding and mutual respect. And such utter disrespect of women’s consent is simply outrageous.
Men may never understand this pain because they never give a thought to it. Therefore marital rape doesn’t even exist for them. Such patriarchal mindsets are also seen in the highest ranks of government. Recently, the Centre reiterated the argument that criminalizing marital rape will destabilise the institution of marriage.
Our culture is governed by the philosophy of “Ladki ki naa mein bhi haan hoti hai (a woman’s no still means yes)” and “Kab tak roothegi, cheekhegi chilaaygi, ek din Haseena maan jaaygi (How long will she stall and shout? One day she will give in).” Though they are just expressions from movies, such blatant misogynist attitudes towards women are shaping misogynist tendencies in our so-called educated males. I am not against the freedom of expression of anyone ( in this case, moviemakers), but I am against the conflict where freedom of expression invades another’s freedom of privacy.
In India, awareness of one’s own rights is abysmally low. And people in power use this for domination. Such power relationships are also witnessed in the four walls of a home. So the foreseeable future regarding the criminalization of marital rape seems bleak to me.
It certainly seems like our men have a tendency to use this situation to their advantage for satisfying their sexual needs under the pretext of marriage. It is very discomforting, and gross, that we have institutionalized rape under the curtains of marriage. Marital rape needs to be criminalized to genuinely save the institution of marriage. This virtual license to rape needs to be stopped.