Is marriage an excuse for rape?

Non-consensual sex

Rape is a topic that makes many people of all ages uncomfortable. Few people think of themselves as potential rape victims, and even fewer consider themselves capable of the rape of another. The natural reluctance to talk about the issue and the widespread existence of mistaken ideas about rape have resulted in a great deal of secrecy, silence, and shame surrounding the subject. Lack of understanding, awareness, and open communication about rape only adds to the suffering of victims.

Marital rape is illegal in 18 American states, 3 Australian states, New Zealand, Canada, Israel, France, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Soviet Union, Poland and Czechoslovakia. Rape in any form is an act of utter humiliation, degradation and violation rather than an old concept of penetration. The nation, pregnant with misconceptions of rape, deeply ingrained cultural and religious stereotypes, and changing social values, must quickly alter the letter of the law.

The problem is that marriage is accepted as sacrosanct.

Awareness must be increased

Marriage does not thrive on sex and the fear of frivolous litigation should not stop protection from being offered to those caught in abusive traps, where they are reduced to the status of a chattel. Apart from judicial awakening, we primarily require generation of awareness. Men are the perpetrators of this crime. “Educating boys and men to view women as valuable partners in life, in the development of society and the attainment of peace are just as important as taking legal steps protect women’s human rights,” says the UN. Men have the social, economic, moral, political, religious and social responsibility to combat all forms of gender discrimination.

Related reading: Mythology, rape and silencing the victim

Organisations working for victims of sexual violence were quick to point out that the new law has serious omissions: Most prominently, it does not criminalise marital rape. A woman raped by her husband continues to have no recourse under Indian law. The UN Population Fund states that more than two thirds of married women in India, aged between 15 and 49, have been beaten, raped or forced to provide sex.

Archaic laws

Fifty-six per cent of Indian women believed occasional wife-beating to be justified. The marital rape exemption can be traced to statements by Sir Mathew Hale, Chief Justice in England, during the 1600s. He wrote, “The husband cannot be guilty of a rape committed by himself upon his lawful wife, for by their mutual matrimonial consent and contract, the wife hath given herself in kind unto the husband, whom she cannot retract.”

Section 375, the provision of rape in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), echoes very archaic sentiments, mentioned as its exception clause, “Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape.” Is marital rape a myth? Can we come out of this misconception and confusion?

Marital rape is a form of sexual offence and a form of violence against women in any form. It constitutes a violation of women’s human rights such as the right to equal protection of the law, liberty and security of the person and freedom from discrimination. Sex becomes the weapon, the vehicle to accomplish the desired result, which is to overwhelm, overpower, embarrass, and humiliate another person.

Related reading: Marital rape. A reality in this marriage.

Debate is essential

All non-consensual sex is rape, whether it takes place within a marriage or any other relationship.

Further, marriage doesn’t mean recovered permission to sexual advancements. Some wives withhold sex from their husbands and their sexual drive or libido is so low that they can seldom make love to their husbands. However, these reasons do not constitute a license for husbands to rape their wives. Men who rape wives generally have multiple sexual partners. When their wives say no, it hurts their ego and in order to show their authority and supremacy, they force their wives.

Let us not use the notions of privacy and sanctity of marriage to condone or ignore sexual violence. It is a deep topic and it needs debate.

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Readers Comments On “Is marriage an excuse for rape?”

  1. Kanuri.sridevi

    People think that rape is a big issue in India,but they donot this consequences for rape.Recently many girls had been raped’many small girls.We can take an example of asifa.That small ???? even she don’t know what do rape mean had been raped by some rubbish people.This complaint is going on.Till now there is no evidence to catch out them and punish them.Even if we take an example of my friend’s colleague story then we get shock. She is dead now because her photos had been morphed by an X guy.Atleast her family doesnt know who had done that.In this way we can take many examples.Some cases are been investigating since long time,some had been closed,some are at pending stage.In this way per day we can listen 10 cases.But we can’t do anything,Nor government can do.I’m not blaming government here im blaming citizen’s where im also a part and where government is also a part.
    Our government is passing many rules based on this issue.
    Here are some measures which are introduced in past few days……..when any stranger tries to harrase you or etc then…….
    *first thing is to keep a knife in your bag which you carry.Anyhow government had passed a rule that if any person is trying to harrse ir rape you then you have all the rights to kill that person
    *secondly government had disclosed a phone number in case any strange is harrasing you then you neither give a missed call nor send a blank message then they will trace your location and catch out of that stranger. This is that number Nirbhaya (9833312222)
    These two laws and newly passed
    So girls be strong

  2. “Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape” – really? What are we up to? When are these laws going to change?

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