Saturday, 2 May 2015

MARITAL RAPE

Definition of “rape” in Indian Penal Code:

A man is said to commit "rape" who, except in the case hereinafter excepted, has sexual intercourse with a woman under circumstances falling under any of the six following descriptions:
  1. Against her will. 
  2. Without her consent. 
  3. With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested in fear of death or of hurt.
  4. With her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband, and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married.
  5. With her consent, when, at the time of giving such consent, by reason of unsoundness of mind or intoxication or the administration by him personally or through another of any stupefying or unwholesome substance, she is unable to understand the nature and consequences of that to which she gives consent. 
  6. With or without her consent, when she is under sixteen years of age.
  • Explanation: Penetration is sufficient to constitute the sexual intercourse necessary to the offence of rape. 
  • Exception - Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.]

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Pay attention to point 6b, which says, “Exception: Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.”

This gives rise to several vital issues:

  • It is unconstitutional since it discriminates against a certain “class” of women called “wife”, whereas all are said to be equal in the eyes of our Constitution.
  • While a woman is said to be protected from all forms of domestic violence – physical, mental, verbal – she is not, from this form of violence that her husband perpetrates against her! Why? Is this not “violence”? Or, does the husband have some divine right over her body and soul?
  • It unequivocally exhibits age-old male arrogance and chauvinism, anachronistic in today’s world, in that it defines the role of woman as the vassal of man.

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“IF MARITAL RAPE IS BROUGHT UNDER THE LAW, THE ENTIRE FAMILY SYSTEM WILL BE UNDER GREAT STRESS,” ... [REPORT SUBMITTED BY LAWMAKERS TO PARLIAMENT SAID IN 2013.]

This, again, gives rise to several vital issues:

  • Is it the sole responsibility of the wife to uphold ‘family honour’?
  • Must she surrender herself even to ‘rape’ to avoid “great stress to her family”? While she has protection against ‘domestic violence’, even from her husband, she has none whatsoever if he chooses to ‘rape’ her!

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From time immemorial, woman has been nothing but the vassal of man. She continues to be so, even in the twenty-first century!

Just imagine what could happen if the definition of rape is to include marital rape. A husband forcing sex on his lawfully wedded wife can be booked for rape! The question that arises is whether it is bad. Is it the duty of a woman to have sex even if she is unwilling, just to avoid “great stress to the family system”? How something that is a crime in the case of other women is not a crime in the case of a wife? Does it not come under domestic violence?

We do not have a Ram Mohan Roy, who emancipated women from the evil of sati. We do not have a Jyotirao Govindrao Phule, who, along with his wife, Savitribai Phule, pioneered women's education. All we have today are male chauvinists, who belong to medieval times, at the helm of organisations and affairs, governing us and making laws that govern us. The appalling disrespect they display even on the hallowed floor of our parliament is evidence enough. It is a pity our women parliamentarians are party to it, too. The innumerable inhuman and heinous crimes against women and female children have failed to open the eyes of the lawmakers.

A Kiran Bedi, a Kiran Majumdar Shaw, a Chandra Kochar, et al are but a collective, insignificant droplet in the ocean called our society. Things are changing, only seemingly.

The more things change the more they stay the same, they say. How true!