Any Rape is a crime, why isn’t Marital Rape?
“Her friends used to tell her it wasn’t rape if the man was your husband. She didn’t say anything, but inside she seethed; she wanted to take a knife to their faces.” ― F. H. Batacan
Have you ever read ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ book by Khaled Hosseini where the two main characters, Mariam and Laila, are exposed daily to a sexist attitude. Although there are conflicting views about women’s roles in this era, a general consensus is that women are lesser than men. Rasheed, Mariam and Laila’s abusive husband, describes a woman as, “her husband’s business only” He also abuses them inside the house, by raping them constantly. After Mariam seems to warm to him once they’re married, he assumes her complacent behaviour means she is open to sex. However, she is not. Mariam does not want to have sex with gross, old Rasheed. Regardless, he comes into her room that night and rapes her (she does not give consent, but he forces her anyway.). Rasheed assumes that because he is Mariam’s husband, he has a right to have sex with her whenever he wants.
This situation does not end with Mariam or Laila there are thousand of Maryam’s and Laila’s in this world who suffer this behaviour of their husbands.
If we claim that we aim to provide equal rights to women and when we talk about gender empowerment why our mind doesn’t go towards married women who have to deal with rape every day where the marriage certificate leads the husband to think that any sort of sex he indulges in with the wife is normal. He believes that even if he forces his wife to have sex, it cannot be called rape.
The prevailing situation in India allows men to have sex with their wives without their consent. The main reason for this is that our law book while defining rape, does categorically mention that husband raping wife is not a criminal offence. Indian penal system does not consider married women in the case of rape as it considers the sex workers. The family, the society, and the law take the marriage contract for granted as a woman’s license to lifetime suffering of her partner’s sexual perversion and fantasies.
It’s 2020 and India remains one of 36 countries where it is not a crime for a man to rape a woman — as long as they are married. Most countries in the world recognise that rape is rape, and that rape is a crime. So, what’s holding India, a ‘superpower,’ back? A careful analysis points to several factors: an outdated IPC dating back to the Victorian era; a rigidly patriarchal society, across India’s myriad religions, that suppresses women’s voices and agency; and a culture where marriage and family, in the dated sense of the words, still hold utmost significance as the building blocks of society.
Women undergo multiple forms of sexual violence from their spouses like exposure to pornography, forcible sex during menstruation, forced sex during pregnancy, forced oral sex, and excessive sexual intimidation. Here the women don’t have enough awareness or education to recognise whether they are victims of sexual violence. In such a society the complaints will be less reported. Hence, we at Womenite are there for such people and we pledge to help anyone in order to do our bit in order to have a better society to live in.
– Shifa Qureshi
(Change maker at Womenite)