Marriage: Immunity From Marital Rape
Rape is a rape, no matter the relationship between the victim and the rapist. He can be anyone even the victim’s husband, but that doesn’t render him immune to the law. Focusing on the harrowing and obnoxious reality of marital rape; it is the rape where the conditions are very divergent. Besides being physical and sexual violation , it is betrayal of trust too. The rapist here is the person whom you thought you knew intimately, with whom you share a history, a home and quite often children, with whom you have made love on a frequent basis often over many years, with whom you have shared your most intimate secrets and fears, and whom you believe to love you, want the best for you, who would never intentionally hurt you. Marital rape is so destructive because it betrays the fundamental premise of the marital relationship, because it questions every comprehension you have not only of your consort and the marriage, but of yourself. You end up feeling betrayed, humiliated, embarrassed and, above all, very muddled. Let’s talk from where it all started. It starts from a traditional special contract that we call marriage which not only has economic and cultural significance, but it also grants men immunity from being accused of the rape of their wives. In giving them this immunity, the inherent message is that men are authorized to have sex with their wives, regardless of the latter’s consent. When we talk about marital rape, we mean forced sex by the husband is rape, but their arguement goes that it’s the right of husbands to have sex with their wives .How the tag of marriage gives a husband the right to rape his wife? At this time people start talking about family values and their preservation. Now how does permitting marital rape preserve “family values”? Well, their argument goes something like this that marital rape is a private affair and should be sorted out mutually by the couple involved (funny how that logic doesn’t apply to homosexual sex) and the law should not interfere so as to not to disrupt the traditional family unit which is the building block of the society. By keeping the marital rape as an exception, we are allowing men, especially abusive men, to make the claim of prior consent (by marriage) void and basically protect those who carry out the intentional rape of their wives. Are we not making mockery of the status of women all around the world? How a tradition which is done with so much of expectations, avidity, zeal and lots of dreams of a new life coming on allows someone to hurt his “better half” so badly, by betraying her trust, by letting her die in bits and pieces every single day? Don’t you think it is more horrible and horrific then all other forms of rape just because here you are being raped by the person who had been given the responsibility so save your integrity and dignity? Still marital rape is not an offence. Is this justice to the 14% marital rape victims present among all the women of India? As observed by the supreme court of India in Shri Bodhi Sattwa Gautam V Subhra Chakraborty, rape is a crime against basic human rights. The court has aptly described it as ‘deathless shame and the gravest crime against human dignity. A marriage is a bond of trust and affection. A husband exercising sexual superiority, by getting it on demand and through any means possible, is not part of the institution. Surprisingly this is not an offence in any law book in India. Rape of a married woman becomes a civil offence and not a crime. Why? Just because the violent sexual intercourse was done by her spouse and not a stranger. Does it turn her sufferings into less painful ? Just being married changes the status quo of the pain suffered? I have put up a lot of questions in front of the reader, just think and try to find out where the lacuna is as all the answers always lie within us. ——————– About the Author: This article is contributed by Deepali Singh, our guest writer.