Reasons why marital rape is not yet legally punishable in India
India is one of the few countries (other examples being including China, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan) which does not consider marital rape as being a legally punishable offence. Despite statistics which indicate the increase in incidents where a spouse has forcibly demanded intimate relations with his spouse, the lawmakers in this country seem to feel that the rape of women within their homes is not heinous enough to warrant condemnation and outlawing.
The situation with marital rape not being considered an unlawful act has much to do with general mentality pertaining to the rights of women. Alongside regular strides being made by the women of this developing nation, are grim figures which pull one back into the proverbial “dark ages” where women were considered second class citizens with duties pertaining to home and hearth. While the 2012 gangrape and murder of a young woman in the nation’s capital has opened a can of worms in context with the increasing prevalence of sexual violence in India, it has also instilled a sense of fear into women who are constantly subjected to violence and rape, sometimes even murder. It does not help that the rather questionable verdict in the aforementioned case seemed mild and even forgiving of those who brutally gangraped and murdered the young girl. It has in fact, encouraged others, especially young men and young husbands to commit marital rape, because the loopholes in the law allow them to get away with minimal punishment.
Another issue which facilitates marital rape is the general institution of marriage, which is defined in India in a manner which seems to point at husbands being regarded as living Gods, whose every wish and whim is to be granted by an obedient, unquestioning wife who needs to “serve” him. An equal marriage where both spouses possess the right to object is a distant possibility, with average Indian mentality placing the role of women simply as subservient creatures who should be loyal and uncomplaining.
Among the other issues, which contribute to marital rape is the still-existent obsession with “duty” of the woman to give birth to a boy child. A male heir, if not produced, is apparently going to appear magically via a variety of methods, marital rape being one of them. With various myths and misconceptions pertaining to pregnancy, comes one, which justifies using “force” and “power” in order to “train” the woman into delivering a child of the desired gender.
It is hoped that legal amendments will be put into force as early as possible in order to ensure the safety of women in India, who are consistently being deprived of their basic human rights to dignity, safe living, and justice.