Marital rape isn’t a crime in India because, it seems, marriage is sacred according to Indian society. As preposterous as it sounds, wait till you hear who made the above assumption- the Indian Government. To a written query from an MP, the Home Ministry came up with an appalling explanation that the concept of marital rape can’t be applied in India because of various factors, ‘including level of education, illiteracy, poverty, myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs, the mindset of the society to treat the marriage as a sacrament’[i]. What?
In other words non-consensual sex between adults isn’t a criminal act because of a societal arrangement called marriage. I wonder how, by applying the same logic, divorce can happen since, you know, marriage is sacred and all.
A third of men surveyed by the International Center for Research on Women admitted to forced sexual intercourse with their wife/partner[ii]. There is little to cheer about concerning law that governs marital rape in India. Under the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013, sexual acts or intercourse by a man on his wife isn’t rape as long as she isn’t under 15 years of age. Permitting abuse against the partner with the sanctity of law is a form of violence against women by the state.
Recently, one of my friends was on a visit to India. We watched a movie where the hero rapes the girlfriend of the so called negative character to punish him. We went to a play in which the husband slaps the wife for some flimsy reason. None of these stood out for me until my friend pointed out, “Why such violence against women?” How true. I was complacent since I’ve been used to seeing violence in everyday life. Seems the government is too.
As for Indian marriages, they are complex. Arranged marriages are as vigorous as ever. Internet marriage sites have curious options that let parents select prospective bride/bridegroom based on a particular caste or religion. Inbreeding of centuries, and continuing the successful run. Parents of girls spend an entire lifetime saving for the wedding of their daughters. She is taught that the essence of marriage is adjustment since the husband is the ‘devta’ (God). So when trouble arises in the marriage, the woman suffers in silence. Priya Vedi, a doctor in Delhi, chose to end her life blaming her closeted homosexual husband for the drastic step. But the blame, in actuality, is to a society that would rather have people live a lie than be true to themselves.
Drubbing up support abroad, Prime Minister Modi said that since the new change of government in India the ethos of the people have also changed[iii]. Have they? Perhaps they have. Since the arrival of this government we know that Indian flights flew forwards (and backwards) across galaxies in the vedic age. That Indians invented all things possible from computer to laptop eons before the birth of the humble electricity. Fantasy has replaced history. When the mindsets of society is being changed so, the Home Ministry conveniently chalking up to preserving a patriarchal ‘mindset of society’ is laughable. Well.
A society has to change, evolve and excogitate. If the government of the largest democracy in the world can hide behind traditional customs, religion and illiteracy to sanction violence, there is some serious introspection to be done.
Anyway, why is marriage sacred? Who determines the sanctity of marriage? Marriage isn’t normal, it’s an artificial institution thrust on by tradition. Condoning violence and rape in this artificial institution is, to be kind, utter nonsense.
Rape is rape, marital or otherwise, when will the government acknowledge?