Marital rape is condemnable as is violence against women in any form, said Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi. Her view assumes significance as it runs contrary to the government’s position that charge of marital rape was untenable in India due to the nature of the society and its beliefs and mindset.
Gandhi said that marital rape is about a man’s need to assert his power on a woman. “My opinion is that violence against women shouldn’t be limited to violence by strangers. Very often a marital rape is not always about a man’s need for sex; it is only about his need for power and subjugation. In such case, it should be treated with seriousness,” said Gandhi.
The government’s stand on marital rape sparked a row recently as it held that this cannot be treated as a criminal offence as marriage is seen as a “sacrament” between husband and wife in India.
Minister of State for Home Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary had told parliament that there is no proposal to bring any amendment to the law for criminalising marital rape. “It is considered that the concept of marital rape, as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context owing to various factors, e.g. level of education/illiteracy, poverty, myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs, mindset of the society to treat marriage as a sacrament, etc,” he said.