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Marital Rape – Milling Sex Slaves In The Name Of Marriage

This asterisked exception features in Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code that defines rape as a criminal offense.

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Image for Representational Purpose

Under the Indian Penal Code or IPC, a man having sex with a girl below 18 – with or without her consent – is defined as a crime. However, an exception is made if the girl is his wife and not below 15. This decision has flagged the conflict in the law. The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) considers sex with children – defined as below 18 – as rape. It is 2020 and India remains one of 36 countries where it is not a crime for a man to rape a woman — as long as they are married.

This asterisked exception features in Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code that defines rape as a criminal offense. A man commits rape if he has sexual intercourse with a woman against or without her consent, or if she is a minor. (The legal age of valid consent is 18 in India.) However, Exception 2 to Section 375 exempts unwilling sexual intercourse with a wife over fifteen years of age from this definition of rape, thus making it legal for men to rape women — who happen to be their wives — aged 15 and above.

Most countries in the world recognize that rape is rape, and that rape is a crime. So, what’s holding India, a burgeoning ‘superpower,’ back? A careful analysis points to several factors: an outdated IPC dating back to the Victorian era; a rigidly patriarchal society, across India’s myriad religions, that suppresses women’s voices; and, a culture where marriage and family, in the dated sense of the words, still hold utmost significance as the building blocks of society.

But arguably, the most stubborn obstacle in the way of India criminalizing marital rape is none other than the Union Government itself. Despite the fact that at any given point, there are several writ petitions before the Supreme Court and the various high courts, filed by individuals and civil society organizations challenging the marital rape exemption to Section 375 — the government has continued to shield men who rape their wives by citing the same few reasons repeatedly. One critical glance is all it takes to break the reasons down to their barebones: misogyny and misconceptions.

A man, however, is not considered guilty of rape if he has sex with a child above 15 who happens to be his wife even though child marriage is banned in our country, but look at the double standards that the Government had defended the immunity to men having sex with wives above 15, saying it was meant to protect the institution of marriage.

If a man has sexual intercourse with a wife who is below 18 years, it is an offence. The minor wife can complain against the husband within one year, lowering the legal age for sex to 15 if the girl is married is unconstitutional.

With all the due respect to the Apex Court, my question is, if a woman above 18 years is stuck in an abused marriage and her husband is forcing himself upon her mercilessly, so as she is an Indian citizen, she has no legal right to fight back to her husband and refuse because this is not rape? In India, marriage is by definition a rape license. Once a man gets it, he is allowed to rape his wife as many times as he wants to. That is why marital rape is not a crime. See how parliament and judiciary both are indifferent to the issues related to women’s independent personality. Why blame those medieval “virginity belts”? We are living in the same backward age in spite of all our education and modernization in all other things. We can accept each second of new thought for our comfort, but women should remain “Slave” like the medieval age in the name of saving marriage as an institution? No doubt law has provisions to fight domestic violence but not marital rape. The irony is that even rapists are not timely punished in this country, how will they address when a man is licensed to rape a woman in the name of nuptial.

Child marriage is a truly global problem that cuts across countries, cultures, religions, and ethnicities. If there is no reduction in child marriage, the global number of women married as children will reach 1.2 billion by 2050. 1 in 3 GIRLS In the developing world is married before 18. Over 700 million women alive today were married as children. At its heart, child marriage is rooted in gender inequality and the belief that girls and women are somehow inferior to boys and men. Child marriage is a complex issue. Poverty, lack of education, cultural practices, and insecurity fuel and sustain the practice. In many communities where child marriage is practiced, girls are not valued as much as boys – they are seen as a burden on their family. Marrying your daughter at a young age can be viewed as a way to ease economic hardship by transferring this ‘burden’ to her husband’s family. They don’t even care what she must be going through, this is not just a physical trauma but mentally the girl goes through hell. On one hand, the government is spending a huge amount on creating awareness against child marriage, and on the other hand, the judiciary gives all powers to a man to rape his 15-year-old Baby wife. At this age hardly the girl knows about consent or her rights as a (woman) girl child.

We are still driven by patriarchal values and the desire to control female sexuality, for instance, how a girl should behave, how she should dress, who she should be allowed to see, to marry, etc. with so much conservation and laws which are just superficial, how one can expect any change?? Even today in 80percent of our own country’s females are not safe; there is no sense of security. In every corner, men are holding their organs in hand with lust in their eyes, they just need prey. Families closely guard their daughters’ sexuality and virginity in order to protect the family honor. If the daughter becomes a victim of rape, the same family feels shamed for bringing dishonor on their family.

So let it be marital rape, let it be molestation to woman or child marriage, many places happens simply because it has happened for generations. In some communities, when girls start to menstruate, they become women in the eyes of the community. Marriage is therefore the next step towards giving a girl her status as a wife and mother. Harmful traditional practices can be linked to each other. In some places and in some communities it’s even more cruel, the child marriage follows the practice of female genital mutilation/cutting, which is considered a rite of passage to womanhood. These outmoded practices often go unquestioned because they have been part of a community’s life and identity for a very long time.

We need to understand that the child brides face huge challenges as a result of being married as children. Isolated, often with their freedom curtailed, girls frequently feel disempowered and are deprived of their fundamental rights to health, education, and safety. Neither physically nor emotionally ready to become wives and mothers, child brides are at greater risk of experiencing dangerous complications in pregnancy and childbirth, contracting HIV/AIDS, and suffering domestic violence. Systems that undervalue the contribution and participation of girls and women limit their own possibilities for growth, stability, and transformation. We actually need no such law that says, having sex with a 15-year-old wife (girl) is fine. We need strong laws that can give justice to women and empower these little girls towards the betterment of society and herself.


 

Dr Vaidehi Tamanhttp://www.vaidehisachin.com
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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