Author: Kartik Singh, Student at JEMTEC School of Law
Co-Author: Tanmay Parashar, Student at JEMTEC School of Law
“Her friends used to tell her it wasn’t rape if the man was your husband. She didn’t say anything, but inside she seethed; she wanted to take a knife to their faces.”—F.H Batacan. Marital Rape in its meekest nous denotes to the manifestation of domestic violence which embroils an act of sexual intercourse with one’s spouse without her consent. Nonexistence of consensus in this type of sensible issues should in fact stand alone as a form of sexual abuse without the need or involvement of any physical violence. However the mere absence of consent is overlooked upon or considered as “implied consent” in cases of married women with respect to their husbands. Do marriages really mean that the women are their husband’s property and her consent should be available 24 hours of the day and 365 days of the year? Can a sacred bond like marriage immunize a kind of such a heinous crime like rape and let the perpetrators move about scott free? Well, the aforementioned paradox is not mere fiction but exists as a reality as one out of five men has forced his wife or partner to have sex according to the International Men and Gender Equality Survey 2011. In this 21st century marital rape has been impeached in more than 100 countries yet India still remains unfortunate one to be among the 36 countries where marital rape is an unjust yet not an uncommon way to disempower women. In 2013, the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) said in its recommendations that the Indian government should criminalize marital rape. In the aftermath of the December 16, 2012 gang rape case the JS Verma Committee also recommended in its favourism. It held that women will be safer from unmannerly spouses, can receive the help required to recover from the shock and in this way can also save them from domestic violence and sexual abuse. Inspite of many legal amendments passed in favor of women such as Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act, 2005, Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressed) Act, 2013, the non-criminalization of marital rape in influential countries like India, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and China continues to undermine the dignity and affect the human rights enjoyed by the women in their respective countries.