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Marital Rape: Why Do Women Not Have The Right To Say No?

Posted by Divya Antil
January 21, 2018

Paridhi, a 22-year-old girl, like any other girl was entering a beautiful phase of her life – she was going to marry someone soon. Like every other girl, she was dreaming about the moment of her marriage – the lighting, functions, the coming of the groom sitting on a horse, etc. But soon after her marriage, on the first night itself, her imagined life came to an end. Her beloved husband tried to have sexual contact with her without her consent. In other words, he raped her. She was forced to compromise with her situation, and now, it has become a habit. This is popularly known as marital rape.

Marital rape refers to an unwanted intercourse by a man with his wife through force, threat of force, physical violence, or when she is unable to give her consent. In simple words, marital rape is a unwanted condition in which spouse abuses his wife, physically and sexually.

The cases of marital rapes are increasing day-by-day. In the present times, many women are abused by their husbands. Despite things going on a wrong track, women are forced to live under such circumstances – sometimes due to social obligations and on the other occasions, due to lack of legislation.

Our society still follows the traditional old outdated concept of marriage. Since society is dominated by men, they consider sexual intercourse with their wife as a ‘right’. These men consider it a woman’s duty to serve her husband and to never say ‘no’ to him. Due to this conservative thinking, women are not able to speak out about their condition as they are taught right from their childhood to do everything as per their husband’s will.

Society is not only responsible for marital rapes, our law and order maintaining body is equally responsible. Despite knowing the fact that marital rapes are hampering the very idea of equality, justice, liberty and human dignity, etc. neither our judicial system nor our parliament has amended any law to tackle the situation and to improve the worsening conditions of women in our society.

Section 375, which deals with rape (with several exceptions) in the Indian Penal Code, still lacks in providing relief to women tortured by marital rapes. The Supreme Court of India states that sexual intercourse by man with his wife, when the wife is not under 15 years of age, is not rape. However, recently Supreme Court of India, has declared that the rape in marital bonds is considered to be an offence, if the wife is between 12-16 years of age. But still, there is no legal protection for marital rapes for women above 18 years of age.

We need to understand that making law for women with age exemption would not uplift women. There is a need that adult marital rape cases should be taken into consideration and wrong doers would be punished for their inhuman acts. Marital rapes not only lead to abuse, but in severe cases leads to death of women by husband or husband’s family members. 

Marital rape is a situation that many countries are facing. Recently, in Pakistan a marital rape case was reported and the women died due to excessive bleeding, as her husband destroyed the vaginal layer through iron rod while raping her. However, marital rape is illegal in many countries including 18 states of America.

There is an urgent need that a law should be made so that the cases of marital rapes would come to an end. The law should be revised in order to provide relief to women. Society needs to change its old degraded conceptions about the status of women, and women must be educated so that they can stand on their feet, and fight their battles.

Marriage is a bond of two souls, and it must be kept in our minds. The idea of women being a means of fulfilment for sexual impulses of men and a child production machine, is still quite significant and needs to change. Society must understand that women are not an asset of men, they are human beings too. The saat vachans that both men and women take with each other, should be fulfilled properly.