Live in Relationships continue to be safer for Indian women. [Marriage Vs Live in Relationships : Twelve points to note.]
“It is considered that the concept of marital rape, as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors, including level of education, illiteracy, poverty, myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs, mindset of the society to treat marriage as a sacrament,” Minister of State for Home, Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary said in the Rajya Sabha.
He was replying to a written question by DMK’s K Kanimozhi, who had asked whether the government was planning to amend the law to make marital rape a crime. She had also asked whether the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women had recommended to India that marital rape should be criminalised.
On the contrary, permitting Marital Rape makes it impossible for Indians (rich or poor, educated or illiterate) to understand that sex without consent is rape. It makes the society view sex as something men are entitled to, and something that the society owes them.
Poverty and illiteracy do not make men view rape misogynistically – Patriarchy does. Patriarchy defines rape as a crime against the owners of the person raped. ( for e.g. the victim’s future husband whose property/honor is attacked; or the male members of her community).
The ‘concept of marital rape, as understood internationally’ is actually the easiest to understand – Sex without consent is Rape. Making Marital Rape a crime would make all Indians understand this international definition the most easily. (It’s common sense actually, if viewed without Patriarchal glasses)
Once we view rape as a violent crime, like stabbing or an acid attack – we will see why being poor or illiterate doesn’t make it easier to live with threat of being sexually assaulted.
Also consider, ‘Myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs’ are all meant to enrich and empower, not threaten the society and empower the violent or abusive.
Also ‘social customs’ allowed infanticide, male child preference, dowry and widow burning, our ancestors had the wisdom to see them as inhuman crimes.
The ‘mindset of the society to treat marriage as a sacrament’ leads to women being raised as future daughters in law.
It leads to almost half the population being raised to view Getting Married, Staying Married or Die Trying as their goal in life. And we know this leads to male child preference, dowry, sex selection, skewed gender ratio and lack of value and respect for women in our society.
Four things that can change the mindset mentioned above:
1. Define lack of consent as rape.
2. Acknowledge Marital Rape is a crime.
3. Law for fair division of Marital assets in case of divorce or separation (to make it easier for victims to walk out of abusive marriages).
4. Ban forced marriages, and child marriages. Make it easier for young adults to walk away from semi-forced marriages.
5. Make it easier for women to walk out of abusive or unhappy marriages.