Domestic violence in India is an entrenched problem, and it has only become
more exacerbated in recent years. According to National Crime Records
Bureau's (NRB) 'Crime in India' 2019 report, about 70% of women in India are
victims of domestic violence.
One such manifestation of domestic violence is marital rape.
What is Marital Rape?
- Rape refers to forcing or manipulating another person into sexual
intercourse. It is a sexual assault.
- Marital rape is the act of forcing one's spouse to have sexual
intercourse without the spouse's consent.
Status Of Marital Rape In India
It's 2021 and India still doesn't recognize marital rape as a criminal
Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code defines rape as:
Sexual intercourse with a woman against her will, without her consent, by
coercion, misrepresentation or fraud or the time she is intoxicated or
duped, or is of unsound mental health.
However, Exemption 2 of Section 375 exempts unwilling sexual intercourse
with a wife over 18 years of age, thus making it legal for men to rape their
As per current law, a wife is presumed to deliver perpetual consent to have
sex with their husband. The concept of marital rape in India is the epitome
of we call an "implied consent". Marriage here is the license for a man to
rape his wife.
As per the UN Population Fund more than two-thirds of married women in
India, aged 15 to 49, have been beaten, or forced to provide sex, regardless
of their socio-economic positions.
As per the International Men and Gender Equality Survey 2011, 1 in 5 men has
forced his wife to have sex.
The non-criminalization of marital rape in India is a dreadful slur on the
dignity and human rights of women.
As many as 150 nations in the world view marital rape as a crime and only 36
countries still refuse to treat marital rape as a crime and India is one of
One of the most horrifying and repressive issues with the Indian Legal
regime is that marital rape is perfectly legal. Rape is rape, irrespective
of the identity of the perpetrator, and the age of the victim. A woman who
is raped by a stranger, lives with the haunting memory of the horrible
incident, and a woman who is raped by her husband lives with her rapist.
It's time that our law makers criminalize the offence of marital rape as
that of rape.
Marital Rape is violation of Fundamental Rights: Article14 & Article Violative of Article 14:
Marital rape violates the right to equality. The exemption creates two
classes of women based on their marital status and immunizes actions
perpetrated by men against their wives. In doing so, the exemption makes
possible the victimization of married women for no reason other than their
marital status while protecting unmarried women from those same acts.
Violative of Article 21:
According to the Supreme Court, rights enshrined in Article 21 include the
rights to health, privacy, dignity, safe living conditions, and safe
environment among others.
In the State of Karnataka v. Krishnappa- the Supreme Court held that sexual
violence apart from being dehumanizing act is an unlawful intrusion of the
right to privacy and sanctity of a female and also that non-consensual
sexual intercourse amounts to physical and sexual violence.
In the Suchita Srivastava v. Chandigarh Administration:
The Supreme Court equated the right to make choices related to sexual
activity with the rights to personal liberty, privacy, dignity, and bodily
integrity under Article 21 of the Constitution.
In both these judgements the Supreme Court has recognized the right to
abstain from sexual activity for all women, irrespective of their marital
status, as a fundamental right conferred by Article 21 of the Constitution.
Therefore, forced sexual intercourse is a violation of the fundamental
Impact On Women
The effect of sexual assault is not only psychological or emotional but also
impacts upon physical, social, interpersonal and financial domains. Research
has shown that women who have been raped by their husbands often develop
anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Studies show that sexual assault
can have severe effects in other domains of a woman's life including how she
views her social reputation, and the quality of her family and social
relationships, how it impacts her functioning and decision-making as well as
their psychological status.
From the above mentioned arguments it is put forward that it is high time
marital rape be recognized by law makers as an offence under IPC. The fact
that parties ae married should not allow men to take advantage and rape
their wives because the gravity of offence is equally grave as that of rape.
Like the many nations around the globe India too needs to recognize marital
rape as a crime. Marital rape infringes fundamental rights of women and
harms their dignity and make their lives miserable them in endless ways.
Therefore, it should be made punishable.