India is a country where marriage is considered to be a religious institution. It is where two people enter into a contract to stay with each other and cooperate in almost every spheres of life. In its truest sense, it stands for the legalization of consensual sexual acts, thus we can say that it helps initiate a conjugal relationship. Judging from that viewpoint, rape and other sort of physical violence is not expected to be a part of this institution.
But in a patriarchal society like India, marriage has a different standpoint in reality, especially for the women. We often come across instances where women are forced to marry against their will or where the girl is sold off to someone twice their age. In these situations being forced into physical relations become a dreaded reality. No girl dares to protest against this, in the fear that it will bring shame to her and her family.
Recently a court acquitted a man of the charge of rape because the complainant was his wife (The Times of India May). This verdict brings Marital Rape into question as the court said that it was a personal and private matter. This is contradictory to the features of Fundamental Rights guaranteed and displayed with élan by our constitution. According to Article 19-22, we have the Right to Freedom and this includes the freedom over one’s own body. In that sense one’s choice to mate with one’s spouse may vary on certain situations, so forcing one into such acts amounts to criminal offence.
Sadly according to our society and our justice system criminalizing marital rape would weaken the roots of traditional family and undermine the omnipotence of marriage. Many are of the view that it is an entirely private act and there is no point in dragging one’s personal affair out in the open. Marital Rape is a dreaded reality for many women, especially in the rural areas where they can’t speak out against their families and have to tolerate the wrongs as mute spectators. This is an obstacle to establishing the concept of India as a welfare state. The Criminal Law Amendment Act 2013 set up by J.S Verma Committee after the Nirbhaya Rape Case (Source: Google) also bears the brunt of not being able to bring married women within its ambit of victims of rape. The society and our judiciary system needs to acknowledge these limitations and work towards condemning marital rape as a heinous crime, and frame appropriate laws- with rigorous punishment. Only then we can succeed in providing true security to our womenfolk.
About the Author
Adrija Bose Ghosh is a PG holder in Sociology, NET-JRF qualified and worked as a lecturer for two years. She loves to read and has a flair for writing. She is interested to work with organizations working for social betterment.
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