Even in the 21st century, our society has failed to realise the fact that women are no lesser than men. Women are still being objectified and are expected to live according to the whims and fancies of the men in their lives.
Here, I am talking about marital rape cases in India. Our legal system does not even acknowledge the existence of ‘marital rape’; Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) states that sexual intercourse by a man with his wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape. This provision is a perfect example of how women have always been considered the possessions of their husbands and fathers. It won’t be wrong in saying that the government itself is encouraging marital rape using the excuse of society, culture, and tradition.
Any sexual intercourse between husband and wife without wife’s consent is called marital rape. A type of crime where the husband can force himself upon his wife, as he feels entitles to so do, thanks to the patriarchy.
In India, different cultures and traditions are beautifully interlinked to respect everyone’s sentiments. Marriages are believed to be the purest relation between a man and woman; however, the society fails to understand that for a marriage to function successfully it is imperative to accord equal status to both the husband and the wife. Women in India have always been subjected to crimes like domestic violence, rape, trafficking, and forced prostitution. Even though we are pretty much vocal about such issues when the issue of marital rape arises we comfortably turn a blind eye towards it in the name of culture and tradition. Marriage in a way gives men the license to ‘rape’ in our society.
Talking about its cases, case of Asha (name changed) kind of tells the whole scenario, where she first lodged a domestic violence case against her husband in 2007. Nine years later, in August 2015, she landed in a public hospital, brutally injured in her private parts, which was seen as “a matter between husband and wife“, and no case was registered. Here, again because marital rape is not considered as a crime, women are forced to live a life of a rape victim.
Other than this, the reasons behind marital rapes are the economic dependency of women on their her husbands and in-laws, traditional rules to play regardless of her choice, widespread gender inequality, and the patriarchal set up of our society.
Let’s not forget, when it comes to sex, consent matters as women have a full right over their bodies, and it’s indisputable. Sex without consent in marriage amounts to rape, and it’s time the lawmakers considered this matter. Criminalising marital rape is the need of the hour.