MARITAL RAPE IN INDIA
By Arjit Narendra Srivastava July 29, 2016
Marital rape in layman’s language means rape committed by a husband upon his wife after the marriage or in other words rape committed by the person to whom the victim is married. The question that arises in such cases is: whether rape of a woman committed by a man after their marriagewill amount to marital rape or not as the husband and wife under Hindu Marriage Act are considered as a union that is, one body and one soul and hence the husband has full right over her. If we look at the issue practically then marital rape refers to an unwanted or forced intercourse by a husband with his wife or through any physical violence due to which she is unable to give consent and since there is a use of force and absence of free consent, it would amount to marital rape. It is to be kept in mind here that marital rape can be done only with the use of force. In the present day scenario it has been found that 10 -14% of married women are raped by their husbands.
Is marital rape an offence in India
Though many attempts and efforts have been done to criminalize marital rape but still marital rape is not considered as an offence in India. Despite amendments, law commissions and new legislations, it is not an offence in India. In view of various legislators it just depends upon the interpretation of the courts about this debilitating act. However, section 375 of Indian Penal Code to some extent has stated in its exceptional clause talking about what would be considered as marital rape, if there is any sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife and the wife is not under the age of 15 which inevitably means that if the wife is above the age of 15 , then it will not be considered as rape and hence not a marital rape.
Effects of marital rape
Research indicates that marital rape has severe and longlasting consequences over women and may include physical effects such as injuries to vaginal and anal areas, soreness, vomiting etc. There may be other physical consequences upon battered women such as broken bones, black eyes and bloody noses etc. There are also some short term effects of marital rape which includes anxiety, shock, intense fear, depression, suicidal ideation, disordered sleeping etc. Long-term effects often includes disordered eating, sleep problems, depression, sexual distress, problems establishing trusting relationship, distorted body image etc. Researchers also indicated that psychological effects are likely to be long-lasting such as flashbacks, sexual dysfunction and emotional pain for years.
Should marital rape law be criminalised in India?
The main reason why marital rape cannot be strictly criminalised in India is due to various factors such as: illiteracy of women mainly urban women, poverty, social customs, values and also religious beliefs including mindset of the society which makes them able to treat the marriage as a sacrament, etc. Hence the government also refuses to include marital rape as a crime under section 375 of IPC which presently excludes the act of sexual intercourse.
If we take the example of various other countries, marital rape has been criminalised such as in U.S.A it became a crime in 1993 in every state and the person is punished for several years of imprisonment without parole. In 1991 it became punishable in Britain and in 2003 ‘consent’ was given a legal definition in England and Wales and the punishment is for 5 years of imprisonment. In Bhutan also, this act became an offence and punishment is for 1-3 years.
Hence, we can conclude that India should also adopt these laws from its native countries despite the fact that India has its own traditions, customs etc.
Proposed changes and amendments
The government is going to propose new law against rape and sexual assault including marital rape to protect women from all kinds of physical and psychological imbalances and hence soon husbands may be behind bars if they commit marital rape. The department of legal affairs has drafted the Criminal Law Amendment Bill based on the suggestions of women and child development (WCD) and National commission for women (NCW) to amend certain sections of IPC and Indian Evidence Act.The proposed changes for marital rape under this bill basically includes imprisonment which may extend to 3 yrs of imprisonment with fine.
Although marriage is considered as a sacrament in India but it does not mean that it validates marital rape. Apart from the above proposed changes and amendments we need to create awareness among the general publicby educating public to view women not only from the point of view for feminine benefits but also to treat woman as valuable partners in life. In this regard the issue can be properly solved and terminated.
Image Credits: http://www.youthconnect.in/2015/04/29/concept-marital-rape-not-applicable-india-says-union-minister/
This blog has been written by "Arjit Narendra Srivastava"
Galgotias school of Law,Greater noida
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