Sharing a comment (and my response) asking some commonly asked questions about Marital Rape and how disallowing it might destabilise the society.
GS: I have a question that I have in my mind which I wish to openly discuss. The urban Indian woman has equally progressed in today’s society and doesn’t live in any kind of a subjection like before, things have gone normal which is the greatest achievement of our times,
IHM : Not true.
Amongst other things, if urban Indian women did not live in any kind of subjection then the society (atleast in urban India) would not continue to prefer male children.
And women and society would find it normal to live, work and travel alone, dressed in clothes they prefer … as easily as the rest of the society does.
GS: what I’d like to enlighten here are more gender biased laws that our Indian Institutions have already passed in favour of women and what aches me more is the way “SOME WOMEN” use the same laws to harass their husband and his family.
IHM : I wish we had reliable statistics of alleged ‘misuse’ of gender biased laws by women.
Also, which specific laws do you think should be changed and how would you change them – ensuring there is no misuse and no justice denied?
Do you think these laws are not required at all? Should domestic violence continue to be permitted just like marital rape is? Have we succeeded in creating healthy society by allowing crimes against some of the members? (No, we have reached a point where most parents do not want to have or to raise girl children, everybody prays, fasts and blesses for sons)
GS: Coming back to this article consent is a sensitive issue that cannot be proved in the Court of law.
IHM : Should a heinous crime be permitted because it is difficult to prove? Acquaintance rape or date rape or rape in live in relationships is also difficult to prove (and 98% of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim) [link] – but the law still does not permit rapes in these relationships.
As of now – marital rape is not a crime, even if it can be proven, where there are injuries and where violence is involved.
Do you think marital rape (- whether easy to prove or not) is less traumatic than rape outside of marriage?
Why do you think is rape traumatic for the victim?
Many Indians (who think marital rape should not become a crime) seem to believe the victim of rape becomes a zinda laash (a living corpse) – implying (amongst many other things) – physical and emotional trauma, caused by violence, violation, fear, physical injuries, stigma (if the crime is reported and becomes public) and more.
Now, which of these would not be experienced in case of marital rape, but is experienced in rapes outside marriage? Stigma? Because it’s perfectly honorable for a victim to be raped by her spouse? So long as the rapist is a spouse or becomes one after the rape – there is no stigma.
One thing that would change with a law criminalising marital rape is that the society would begin to view rape as an assault and not as a shameful thing.
What does the legal right to rape an equal partner mean? How do you think does it affect a relationship? Amongst other things it creates a sense of entitlement. It also implies that forced sex is wrong only when the victim is being ‘dishonored’ and that there is no dishonor in sexually assaulting someone one is married to. Are honor, respect and equality possible in such a relationship?
How is marital rape less serious than domestic violence? Should any civilised society legally allow such crimes to be committed?
Legalising a crime is not a solution, because it changes the way the crime is viewed by the criminal, the victim and the entire society.
There is a general lack of healthy sex education or even communication about sex, and the law permits rape of a spouse, so for many Indians marital rape, or forced sex with spouse is not just perfectly acceptable – but actually quite normal. Seems disgusting and unbelievable? Take a look at the reactions to this groom raping a wedding guest: ‘Rapist groom should have waited a little to satiate his lusty desires without problems which he has got into.‘
The general tone of the comments is – “Fool did not wait for few hours to legality(sic) enjoy”. One comment suggests the groom was ‘practising’. There is a general sense that marriage entitles a man to unlimited power over the wife, and rape and sex are seen as the same thing. Can forced sex and respect coexist? Do these men [Or these, these, these, these, these and these] understand that sex can and should always be a mutually desirable act?[unimaginable!] Without understanding that and with so much ignorance – how can they be expected to view women as equal citizens and people with feelings?
There seems to be no question of what the woman thinks or feels. How can such relationships create happy and well adjusted families? What kind of society do such millions of such families create? We already know that –
More than half of young Indians believe it’s okay for a husband to beat his wife.
And, India leads in sexual violence, worst on gender equality: Study
GS: and some women can make a good misandry out of the same just like they did with Sec 498A.
IHM: Responded above. Need reliable statistics on misuse of 498A. What options do you suggest?
GS: Consent is not always given by women.
IHM: I didn’t understand this. Do you mean consent should always be given by women? Meaning women should not have the right to deny consent? Do you mean women should be forced to consent? How does the society benefit from this forcing?
Both men and women should have the right to give or to withhold consent. Sex without consent is called rape.
One way this would change relationships (and hence the society) is that even married men would make the effort to be nice to the wife (or vice versa) if they want sex, they would not feel entitled to sex.
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. More here – “Instituting the idea of marital rape raises the specter of a man going for long periods without sex even though he’s married!”
GS: Despite making the laws just in favour of women without any proof why can’t our government take active measures to create gender neutral laws instead of laws for protecting just women.
IHM: Gender Neutral laws are fair. Marital Rape and domestic violence should not be permitted to women either.
We also need more gender neutral laws to ensure women and men inherit equally, are provided equal opportunities for self reliance, are entitled to equal pay for equal work. Both men and women should feel safe – while travelling (especially after dark), or in public spaces or when under the influence of alcohol; marriage and parenting should not make men or women economically (or otherwise) dependent etc..Reservation by custom and tradition. Neither should be expected to forget their families and friends once they get married
GS: If the same situation continues time isn’t far when even Indian men will quit their faith from women and the Institution of marriage which would damage the family structure of a civilized society badly.
I need open minds to discuss this issue.
IHM: Do you mean that Indian men would not want to get married because they would fear being accused of raping their wives? These challenges should not deter the government from making laws that do not permit anybody to rape anybody. The law must acknowledge marital rape as a crime – just like we acknowledge other crimes like murder or acid attacks.