“Instituting the idea of marital rape raises the specter of a man going for long periods without sex even though he’s married!”

“I mean what’s the point then, right?”

Quoting Bhagwad Jal Park.

Here’s more,

“The true motive behind the opposition to marital rape might just be the resistance to a woman’s sexual autonomy. Men and even women are brought up with the idea that marriage is a license to have sex whenever the man wants. And that by refusing it, the woman is not doing her “duty”. Implicit in this line of reasoning is the notion that sex is not something that women enjoy. That they only do it for children and after that they don’t want it anymore. Instituting the idea of marital rape raises the specter of a man going for long periods without sex even though he’s married! I mean what’s the point then, right?

I now understand what the government meant when it said they were “protecting marriage”. What they they’re defending is not marriage per se, but the warped idea of marriage that Indians have. For them, marriage is just a license to have socially accepted sex. Allowing women to say “no” takes that away from them. In the future, they might *gasp* actually have to try and be nice to the woman, make her feel wanted, and be romantic. You can’t treat her like dirt and still exercise a god given right to use her body when you want.

And that sense of entitlement is probably the true reason for this resistance.”

Read, Like and Share the post here – The Huge Opposition to Marital Rape Laws is Shocking 

Here’s another quote:

“Criminalizing marital rape is a no brainer. There’s no need for even the phrase “marital rape” to exist. We don’t have “marital murder” after all.”

Related Posts:
Making Marital Rape a legal offence is the fastest way to make it clear that Rape means forced sex, not lost Virginity or Honor.

Forcible sex with wife doesn’t amount to marital rape: Court

For Victims and Survivors of Marital Rapes.

Where Consensual Sex is Rape, and Forced Sex a legal right.

“Girls should be married at 16, so that they don’t need to go elsewhere for their sexual needs. This way rapes will not occur.”

Who will benefit from criminalising sexual assaults within marriages?

46 thoughts on ““Instituting the idea of marital rape raises the specter of a man going for long periods without sex even though he’s married!”

    • “In the future, they might *gasp* to actually have to try and be nice to the woman, make her feel wanted, and be romantic. You can’t treat her like dirt and still exercise a god given right to use her body when you want.”

      It’s amazing isn’t it how we see this attitude all around us, and become so de-sensitized to it. When someone writes about it, (and writes this well) you realize where we are, as a society. It’s like a wake up call.

  1. The term ‘marital rape’ is absurd in itself. Rape is rape. No matter what the relationship of the victim to the rapist.

    Section 497 of the IPC is even more suggestive that a woman is the property of her husband. It says, “Whoever has sexual intercourse with a person who is and whom he knows or has reason to believe to be the wife of another man, without the consent or connivance of that man, such sexual intercourse not amounting the offence of rape, is guilty of the offence of adultery and shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 5 years, or with fine, or with both. In such case, the wife shall not be punishable as an abettor.”

    How can a person require the spouse’s consent to have consensual sex with someone else? Most of the Indian laws formulated in the British era are simply absurd.

      • @ Blogster,
        How did you conclude that I said that adultery is right? I was just referring to the section 497 of the IPC which suggests that a woman is the property of her husband whose consent should be taken if she is having consensual sex with another man.

        And probably, adultery should not be considered a punishable crime. How can it be a crime if two mature adults are having sex with each other’s consent? In that sense, it is absurd to make adultery illegal. Though I’m not saying it would be morally right for anyone.

        • Adultery is a breach of trust and is morally wrong. If unresolved, it coud naturally lead to divorce. It should not be treated as ‘legal’ crime because consenting adults are involved. There is a difference between ‘moral’ and ‘legal’.

      • It is anti-woman because this law pretty much treats the wife as the husband’s property. The ‘other man’ is committing a crime against the husband’s property–aka the wife. Technically, a man could rent out his wife as a prostitute and it would be okay because the ‘extra marital’ sex was done with the consent of the husband. Also, I have no idea whether there is a similar law regarding a cheating husband and ‘the other woman.’

        While people have differing views on the ethical aspect of adultery, making it against the law is ridiculous. Even ethically, the responsibility clearly falls on the cheating spouse who is in a legal/moral commitment rather than the ‘other man.’ I cannot believe laws like this exist in a so called secular democracy.

        • Technically, a man could rent out his wife as a prostitute and it would be okay because the ‘extra marital’ sex was done with the consent of the husband.

          It would be okay only if the wife was fine with this arrangement too.

          If not, it would be rape, husband’s views on it notwithstanding.

    • How does it work if the husband is the adulteror? The law is ambiguously worded since a “spouse” could be a wife or a husband. Can a wife sue another woman for adultery and have her imprisoned?

      Of course, the law tacitly assumes that a cuckolded husband deserves justice whereas an unfaithful husband is just being his usual, endearing self.

      Female infidelity can be addressed using legal proceses, but male infidelity, which is far more common is just business as usual?

      • How does it work if the husband is the adulteror?

        He is liable to be prosecuted for adultery, by either his own wife, or by the husband of the woman he engaged in extramarital sex with.

        Of course, both of them have the option to refrain from filing charges and simply divorce their respective spouses on the grounds of adultery.

        Can a wife sue another woman for adultery and have her imprisoned?

        No, because a woman can never even be treated as an abettor (let alone perpetrator) in a case of adultery.

        Of course, the law tacitly assumes that a cuckolded husband deserves justice whereas an unfaithful husband is just being his usual, endearing self.

        Not really.

        What the law really does is infantilize women, reducing them to rather simple beings who can be seduced at will by another man. The woman is considered to have no part in the ‘crime’. Why this is so is anyone’s guess.

        It’s fairly sexist and ridiculous.

  2. I agree with each point, more or less.

    I’d like to point out, though, that from a socio-ethical (even if not legal) point of view, a strong case can be made for treating and understanding marital rape in a context separate from generic sexual assault.

    ‘Marital murder’ is not an equivalent analogy, because rape is a much more specific offense than murder, and when rape is perpetrated by a spouse, there exists a socially-sanctioned enabling power structure which makes it somewhat different from the case of a stranger raping a woman.

    Perhaps a better analogy to draw here is the different ways in which we see interpersonal violence when it occurs between strangers, and when it occurs between a married couple. The former is assault, the latter is termed domestic violence. While similar in their manifestation (physical violence), the differences in the social contexts in which they occur, make them dissimilar enough that we treat them separately, even in law.

    While marital rape is at par with non-marital rape in terms of malice and heinousness, these are not exactly the same crimes, even though the base act (non-consensual sex) is similar.

    • Marvelous. Only a lawyer could argue so clearly. I am neither agreeing nor disagreeing with your argument, rather just relishing the clarity with which the argument is presented.

    • I disagree – I think we shouldn’t care about the “social context” while dealing with crimes. There are many reasons for this – one of which is that marriage is just a contract. It doesn’t imply sex, or even love. True, sexual incompatibility is a ground for divorce in India, but I believe we should introduce general “no fault” divorce in any case. Why two people want to separate is their business. The state shouldn’t bother.

      Domestic violence laws are different from assault only to the extent that the dangers of domestic violence are more immediate given that the victim and perpetrator are living together. All aspects of the law are geared towards this and ensuring that adequate protections are in place. Besides, when we have statistical evidence showing that spousal abuse is chronic we can make use of that to implement systems for repeat offenders etc.

      The law should be blind to the “socially sanctioned enabling power”. The rights of citizens to live in safety and without fear should be paramount and supersede any contract or understanding.

      • Bhagwad, contrary to what Mohan Bhagwat said about Hindu marriage being a contract, many traditional Hindus do not view it as a legal contract, though the law treats it as one.

        My ex-husband’s family always believed that our divorce was invalid since a Vedic wedding is solemnised in the presence of the gods and there is no mention of divorce in the scriptures, apparently. In short, they viewed a Hindu marriage as a lifelong union which one couldn’t break, no matter what the law said.
        Just saying! :)

      • I would refer you to the very beginning of my comment:

        I’d like to point out, though, that from a socio-ethical (even if not legal) point of view [...]

        As stated, I am not debating legislation or legalities at all. I am merely reacting to the idea that there is no need for the phrase ‘marital rape’ to even exist.

        I contend that emphasizing the ‘marital’ in ‘marital rape’ is not just meaningful, but in fact necessary if that particular phenomenon is to be understood from both an ethical and sociological perspective.

      • @Bhagwad – “one of which is that marriage is just a contract.” Can you elaborate in more detail what are the terms of the contract in your opinion? I would like to hear what it implies rather than what it does not imply?

        • It implies…nothing. It perhaps implies that you file your taxes together if you want. It implies that you get to travel on a linked visa. It implies that you can be called a “spouse” for wherever that word is mentioned in law. Nothing else.

          Of course, each individual couple can have their own “implicit” contract terms that cannot be enforced by law. Love, trust etc are the common terms. But those are not necessary.

          In short, marriage means almost nothing.

        • @Anonymous

          As Bhagwad said, two adults entering into a marriage are free to stipulate (non-enforceable) terms of their own.

          However, almost all jurisdictions regulate marriage to some extent by means of the judicial system, and certain boilerplate terms and conditions are common. For instance:

          1. Neither party is free to enter into another marriage with a third party without formally terminating the contract (by means of divorce or equivalent legal process).

          2. Neither party is free to terminate the marriage without following a specific legal process, and (in some jurisdictions, such as India) citing satisfactory reasons for doing so.

          3. All assets created or purchased after the marriage become jointly-owned by both parties. Some jurisdictions allow for explicit pre-nuptial agreements laying down asset distribution in the event of a divorce. However, courts may have powers to set aside such agreements if necessary.

          There are also other legal consequences.

          For example, in most jurisdictions, married couples cannot be forced to testify against their spouses in a court of law.

          If a couple has children, Inheritance rules are likely to be substantially different depending on the marital status of the couple.

          Other tidbits depend on your particular jurisdiction, but all things considered, there are a fair number of legal ramifications to consider while getting married. Most of these ramifications may never affect you in your lifetime, but they do exist, and are an implicit part of the contract that you sign when you tie the knot.

    • Praveen, exactly my thoughts!

      Also, rape is sexual intercourse by force. And murder is ending someone’s life by force.

      But while sexual intercourse with the spouse is a common part of married life, ending the life of the spouse is not. So it is rather stupid to draw an analogy between marital rape and something called marital murder. Marital rape is just a term to emphasize upon the issue of force used for sexual intercourse (which is otherwise a common practice between spouses) by a man on his wife which is obviously without consent.

      But we can overlook this particular comment from Bhagwad (in an otherwise well written article) since he is used to drawing ridiculous analogies between things. :)

      • You seem to have gotten confused: the comparison is being drawn between forced “sexual intercourse with the spouse” and “marital murder”, so don’t leave out the forced part. Also contrary to your beliefs both marital rape and marital murder are pretty common in India.

        And IMO: forced intercourse with an intimate partner is much more traumatic because in entails a serious breach of trust in addition to the usual feeling of being violated.

        • Swarup, I think it is you who has gotten confused here. If you read my comment again, I never left out the forced part. In fact, I clearly mentioned that force is the common factor between a rape and a murder.

          And nowhere did I say that murder of spouse is not common in India. It is not about something being common or not. It is about the fact that sex is a part of marriage. One does not EXPECT murder to be an outcome of a marriage. But when two people marry, it is EXPECTED that they must be having sex. I hope you get the point now.

        • Quoting from your comment: “But while sexual intercourse with the spouse is a common part of married life, ending the life of the spouse is not.” – simply pointed that out.

      • “Marital rape is just a term to emphasize upon the issue of force used for sexual intercourse (which is otherwise a common practice between spouses) by a man on his wife which is obviously without consent.”

        Right and if we simply called it ‘rape’, it would also emphasise forced sexual intercourse which is obviously without consent. The other parts of your definition are irrelevant to the criminalisation of the act of rape. They might be important when stipulating what evidence needs to be provided to prove rape in case of rape by the spouse, but otherwise they are irrelevant. So why make a special exemption for husbands from rape itself (as we have at the moment)? Why not define rape as rape and make provisions for an added burden of proof on the complainant in case the accused is the spouse?

  3. Came here from Bhagwad’s blog. I’ll just repeat what I commented there.

    There shouldn’t be any confusion about the fact that marital rape is also RAPE. It should be treated as any other case of rape. If the government or anyone else doubts the reality of marital rape, and talk of things like “protecting marriage”, then they are just plain stupid.

    But we should rather be discussing how to differentiate rape from consensual sexual intercourse within marriage. Since medical evidence is rendered useless in cases of marital rapes specially if the woman does not put up any physical resistance, what should be the basis of proving that an act of sexual intercourse between spouses was actually rape and not just normal consensual sex. How does a wife prove that she did not consent OR how does a husband prove that his wife consented? Specially in cases where any signs of physical violence are absent.

    Until such technicalities are discussed and clarified, we will not be able to have strict and efficient laws against marital rape and it will continue to be objected upon.

    • I agree. If marital rape is considered and included in a law, how does a woman prove that she has been raped by her husband?
      I am completely in agreement for the introduction of the law but what happens after that?

      • I’m no expert, but the Domestic Violence Act of 2005 does have a clause for sexual abuse by the spouse. In that sense, a woman who has been raped by her husband can still bring charges against him, under this act, as of today.

        This Act essentially protects not just wives, but also other female relatives, from physical ,sexual , emotional and verbal abuse. Again,not an expert, but the DV Act seems to be broader in scope than any marital rape law can ever be.
        Not trying to be the contrarian, but I genuinely believe that a legal remedy for marital rape already exists-it’s just that it’s been tucked away in the midst of a more labyrinth act, so it’s bound to be overlooked.

        • I genuinely believe that a legal remedy for marital rape already exists

          Indeed. The problem is not that this act is overlooked; rather the main issue is that DVA, 2005 provides only civil remedies to a set of acts, of which most already have criminal remedies available.

          In that sense, it is somewhat redundant when the complainant is a married woman.

      • How is it any different from proving a woman was raped by a man who was not her husband?

        Remember, most rapes (~90% is the statistic I have read from studies in the US, and I don’t think it would be grossly different in India) are committed by a person known to the victim. We have a high profile, violent rapes by strangers, and these are relatively easier to prove, but they are still a minority.

    • Its possible that the difficulty in proving and prosecuting marital rape is the real reason why the government is hesitant about criminalising it. However as Bhagwad suggested, they could criminalise it and shift the burden of proof to the complainant;
      instead of hiding behind smokescreens like “protecting marriage”.

      Criminalising marital rape would at least send a signal to the hordes of men who genuinely believe that they have unfettered rights over their wife’s body since she consented to sex by agreeing to marriage.

      The idea that a husband is “entitled” to sex is a deep-rooted one. Men are conditioned think of marital sex as a right and women are conditioned to think of it as an onerous duty. Some of my friends, the kinds who watch Sex and the City, still believe that refusing sex to a husband would justification for him to stray.

    • These are two separate issues.

      Never mind evidence – as of now, even if the husband openly admits to the act, he cannot be punished.

      First let people know what is right and what is wrong. Then we’ll take it from there.

      • Exactly. I don’t get why people get so hung up on ‘How can we prove it?’
        OJ got away. Last I checked, murder is still a crime.

  4. In India most of us are so hell bent on “saving” the institution of marriage at all costs and there are innumerable examples where the courts and the police also try to downplay even issues as serious as sexual violence within a marriage because saving the institution is more important to them than saving an individual.

    Secondly the”pati” needs to be separated from the”parmeshwar”,just because a man has married a woman it should not make the society accept that the woman is at his disposal sexually and otherwise.

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