Honour And Dignity
Trigger Warning: Rape/Assault/Sexual Abuse
Rape is the fourth most common crime against women in India. According to the 2019 annual report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 32033 rape cases were registered across the country, or an average of 88 cases daily. Section 375 of the Indian penal code defines rape as “Sexual intercourse with a woman, without her consent, against her will, by coercion, misinterpretation, or fraud or at a time when she has been duped or intoxicated or is of unsound mental health and in any case if she is under 18 years of age.”
So here is my question. If that is the definition of rape why is marital rape not punishable by law? Marital rape or spousal rape is the act of sexual intercourse with one’s spouse without consent. Marital rape is not a criminal offense within the Indian legal framework, except during the period of judicial separation of the partners. The marital rape exception, that is exception 2 of section 375 of the Indian Penal Code states that sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under 18 years of age, is not rape.
Why is that not considered a crime? Why is someone’s spouse deprived of those rights, the basic rights of any human? The fact that people agree that rape is a crime but debate on the fact if marital rape should or shouldn’t be considered under the status of criminal act is why we need to fact check every detail. IPC Section 375 defines rape in an elaborate manner that I have stated above but it also has a few exceptions, one of them is making it okay to rape your wife if she is over eighteen years of age.
There are details about the IPC Section 375 that I was unaware of but honestly, being aware only made me furious. But isn’t this how it should be? I read somewhere something like ‘if you are not angry, you are not paying attention.’ Which didn’t make much sense for me at first but of course, when I paid attention, I got angry, and not just about this, but about so many other things that are wrong with this society.
Have you ever heard someone say, “oh it just happens you know you can’t change it that’s how it’s supposed to be, it’s a marriage.” there are things you can’t change in a marriage. you can’t make someone do something. it isn’t a crime but I think it should be. why are you, as a man, given the privilege to use your wife’s body as you please? why are you so threatened that you need to justify your manhood and force your wife in bed and engage in sexual intercourse even without her consent? I’m twenty-five years old. I might want to get married but I don’t want the fear of losing my right to say no just because I signed a marriage license. women are allowed to enjoy their marriage, so are men but not by taking anyone’s freedom away. not by taking their rights to have a say over their own bodies. Men and even some women had taken over Twitter with the hashtags ‘marriage strike’ and ‘marital strike’, stating that they would rather stay single than let their wives have basic rights and dignity. which clearly helps women to identify what these #strikers had in mind. they made clear what their idea of a “marriage” is.
Amendment of section 375 of IPC which was made in 2013 after the Nirbhaya case. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, also known as the Nirbhaya Act was passed in Parliament to amend Section 375. The amendment was majorly done to rule out the ambiguity that existed in the previous law and created room for strict punishment during the occurrences of sexual violence. The section was also altered specifically to define Sexual Assault meaning. Here’s another question. Why does a woman need to be brutalized for other women to have justice? Nirbhaya case made sure that we had better punishments for rapists but nobody thought about it before this woman lost her pride, her dignity, her freedom, her life? Married women have a right to their bodies. They have a right to say no. They deserve to own their bodies and not be terrified of the fact that if they get married, they give up those rights? They deserve to live with dignity.