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News: The Delhi High Court has told the Centre that it will continue hearing the petitions challenging the legal exception to marital rape and not wait for the government’s ongoing process of initiating reform in the criminal laws.
What is Marital Rape?
• Marital rape is the act of sexual intercourse with one’s spouse without her consent.It is no different manifestation of domestic violence and sexual abuse.It is often a chronic form of violence for the victim which takes place within abusive relations.The reluctance to define non-consensual sex between married couples as a crime and to prosecute has been attributed to:
o Traditional views of marriage
o Interpretations of religious doctrines
o Ideas about male and female sexuality
o Cultural expectations of subordination of a wife to her husband
• It is widely held that a husband cannot be guilty of any sexual act committed by himself upon his lawful wife their on account of their mutual matrimonial consent.
• Historically considered as right of the spouses, this is now widely classified as rape by many societies around the world.In India, marital rape is not a criminal offense (as protected under IPC section 375).India is one of fifty countries that have not yet outlawed marital rape.
• Indian Penal Code criminalizes rape in most cases, although marital rape is not illegal when the woman is over the age of 18.However, until 2017, men married to those between 15 and 18 could not be convicted of rape.Marital rape of an adult wife, who is unofficially or officially separated, is a criminal offence punishable by 2 to 7 years in prison; it is not dealt by normal rape laws which stipulate the possibility of a death sentence.
• According to the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (2005), other married women subject to such crime by their husband may demand for financial compensation.They also have the right to continue to live in their marital household if they wish, or may approach shelter or aid homes.
• However, marital rape is still not a criminal offence in this case and is only a misdemeanour.
• Marital rape is considered as the violation of FR guaranteed under Article 14 of the Indian constitution which guarantees the equal protection of laws to all persons.
• By depriving married women of an effective penal remedy against forced sexual intercourse, it violates their right to privacy and bodily integrity, aspects of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21.
Arguments for criminalization
• Rape by a spouse, partner or ex-partner is more often associated with physical violence.
• There is research showing that marital rape can be more emotionally and physically damaging than rape by a stranger.
• Marital rape may occur as part of an abusive relationship.
• Furthermore, marital rape is rarely a one-time event, but a repeated if not frequent occurrence.
• In the case of marital rape the victim often has no choice but to continue living with their spouse.
Arguments against criminalization
• It is very subjective and intricate to determine whether consent was acquired or not.
• If marital rape is criminalized without adequate safeguards it could be misused like the current dowry law by the dissatisfied wives to harass and torture their Husbands.
• It will increase the burden of judiciary which otherwise may serve other more important causes.