This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Nikitha Bommakanti. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

To Criminalise Marital Rape, We Need Action Not Sympathy!

TW: Rape, assault.

Criminalizing marital rape in India is imperative. In simple words, marital rape is the husband raping his wife. What really bothers me is that these husbands are protected legally, as the law doesn’t make a husband liable for any punishment for this gruesome act. The law gives a ‘cold shoulder’ to married women in such cases, jeopardizing their lives.

Ultimately, the woman is being compelled to endure the pain inflicted by her husband. Are we ignoring the sorrows of wives? In this article, I will stress on the constitutional aspect of rape and the importance of criminalizing marital rape. As we proceed, you will comprehend the need to alter the exceptions under consideration of rape.

Guilty Of Rape Only If The Man Is Not Your Husband?

The husband is not punishable under Sec 375 of IPC, for raping his wife.

Section 375 in The Indian Penal Code:

Rape. — A man is said to commit “rape” who, except in the case hereinafter excepted, has sexual intercourse with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the six following de­scriptions: —

(First) — Against her will.

(Secondly) — Without her consent.

(Thirdly) — With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested in fear of death or of hurt.

(Fourthly) — With her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be law­fully married.

(Fifthly) — With her consent, when, at the time of giving such consent, by reason of unsoundness of mind or intoxication or the administration by him personally or through another of any stupe­fying or unwholesome substance, she is unable to understand the nature and consequences of that to which she gives consent.

(Sixthly) — With or without her consent, when she is under sixteen years of age. Explanation. — Penetration is sufficient to constitute the sexual intercourse necessary to the offence of rape.

(Exception) — Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.

This paradoxical exception of the section brews several controversies.

First, why is the age of the wife considered under 15 years of criteria? Isn’t it child marriage, Oh wait! Child Marriage is illegal in our country. Secondly, the Right to Equality, the Fundamental right as per article 14 is compromised. We do not provide the right to equality to married women, as per Article 15, Right to Equality. Talking about Article 15(1), it prohibits the state from discrimination against a citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth. Article 15(3) empowers the state to make any special provision for women and children.

Let’s take an instance

Suppose a family forces a 17-year-old girl to marry a man of 25-years against her will. The man rapes her. In this situation, she approaches the court for justice. Sadly, her request is ruled out by claiming the husband is punishable and charged with rape only when his wife is less than 15 years of age. 18 years is the legal age of marriage in India for women. So the husband shall be punished under the Child Marriage Restraint Act, but definitely spared the rape charges.

They ignore the demographic of wives in India for providing justice as per section 376. In such times the husbands become more arrogant, harassing women even more after she files a case.

“Without Consent,” Is Rape.

If the wife denies consent or the husband forces her as per the clauses mentioned under the rape section, the husband can’t be held accountable as a criminal.

Sexual Consent

If a person has sex with a woman against her will and without her consent it is considered as rape. Consent is the willful agreement and expressed mutual consent to have sex with the partner. Now, this doesn’t mean if you have been with someone earlier you are liable to accept having sex every time.

You own the power of acceptance or denial of engaging in sexual activity. Expressing consent is essential every time you get in physical contact with the person. And ‘No’ always means ‘No’. Silence does not convey your will, neither do the clothes you wear. “You ask for it,” by actually asking for it. It is of extreme significance for both the partners to be precise about this aspect. Forcing is not consent. Assuming is not consent.


I am going to have sex with you, against your will.

I forcibly pushed the women into the washroom and got physical with her.

I threatened her to kill her entire family if she doesn’t have sex with me, and she straight away nodded to fulfil my sexual desire.

I deceived her by promising to get married and left her after contentment of physical needs.

I drugged her, and when she was unconscious; she accepted, but under the influence.

She is my 15-year-old girlfriend and expressed her consent to have sex with me.

But, if a husband commits all the points covered under the criteria with his wife, Indian law does not consider it as rape until and unless the wife is under 15 years of age.

Do Married Women ‘Withstand’ Rape?!


According to section 90 of the Indian Penal Code, consent is not such a consent as is intended by any section of this Code if the consent is given by a person under fear of injury, or under a misconception of fact, and if the person doing the act knows, or has reason to believe, that the consent was given in consequence of such fear or misconception; or

Consent of insane person if the consent is given by a person who, from unsoundness of mind, or intoxication, is unable to understand the nature and consequence of that to which he gives his consent; or

Consent of child unless the contrary appears from the context, if the consent is given by a person who is under twelve years of age.
Women denying to have sex with her husband because of male dominance, if the partners force his wife against her will, is not considered as Consent. Section 375 includes against her will without her consent punishable as rape.

There were a total of 4,05,861 cases of crime against women, registered in 2019. The number reveals a 7.3% increase over the last years where the number of registered cases was 3,78,236. NCRB. After the new provisions were being introduced under the Nirbhaya Act, there was a spike in cases registered. After the act entered into force in 2013, people started learning about the law and registered cases when faced with atrocities.

The continuous escalation of registered cases also reveals the other side of the story, implying no transformation in society despite the existence of a vigorous law. Considering negligence as an aspect, there are abundant cases that go unseen because of failure or fear of women acquainted with the law. Rest, those who do register cases constantly fight for justice,

Men continue to exploit women. This has to stop, for which there’s an alarming requirement to expose criminals and the sections they are charged with. From the Nirbhaya case, to now the Hathras case, we know these women who have succumbed to death because of rape. But how many among us are actually aware of the criminals who commit such crimes? Expose rapists. Save lives.

But the husband would end the marriage if the women accuse him of rape. Yes, the husband may not wish to continue the marriage but that shouldn’t be the reason why women have to resist their problems. And if we look at the broader perspective in our society, women who aren’t willing to raise her opinion is well aware of the repercussions so she will ultimately decide.

For how long can a person endure pain in the name of marriage? And even if she is filing for a divorce, what if she wants to do it on the grounds of her husband raping her? As such law doesn’t exist she is compelled to accuse him of other charges. But, the point is, why would any women want to continue to endure pain and live with a person who brutally abuses her? I feel it is inequitable if the accused isn’t proved guilty of committing a specific crime because he is not considered a criminal as per law.

Sympathy Isn’t The Need Of The Hour, Action Is!

In our society, men dominate women, castigate them, mitigating them from claiming equality. The dominance of one person, caste, religion, gender, race is condemned, but reality echoes the opposite of all these.

We consider women sacred, in Mother Land, India. Respect and devotion of this sanctity are only confined to the temples. We worship the goddess to protect us from evils,

And make the daughters plead for mercy from sinister masked humans.

We accuse women who wear clothes of their choice for the endurance of horrible incidents,

But breakdown when women at our homes suffer the same plight?

You can force your daughters to cover her body,

But who is going to change the demon mindsets with malicious intents?

You become tight-lipped when your daughters talk about sexual violence,

But scream for justice when she gives up her life.

You shut doors on women who beg for help,

But except someone to help your daughter.

For as long as Patriarchy prevails, Equality departs.

The problem is with the societal mindset.

Families of women: He’s your husband! You should “adjust.”


Take action against injustice. Sign the petition to criminalise marital rape in India.


You must be to comment.

More from Nikitha Bommakanti

Similar Posts

By Kalyani Biswas

By Kinza Jamal

By Rammohan Nimmaraju

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below