‘Concept of marital rape can’t be applied in Indian context’: Maneka Gandhi

The government remains unconvinced about criminalising marital rape as Maneka Gandhi told Rajya Sabha on Thursday that a country like India is not ready for the change due to factors like poverty, illiteracy and religious beliefs.

New Delhi | Published:March 11, 2016 2:03 am
maneka Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi

The government remains unconvinced about criminalising marital rape as Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi told Rajya Sabha Thursday that a country like India is not ready for the change due to factors like poverty, illiteracy and religious beliefs.

“It is considered that the concept of marital rape, as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors like level of education/illiteracy, poverty, myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs, mindset of the society to treat the marriage as a sacrament, etc.,” she said in a written reply in the Upper House in response to a question on whether the government plans to criminalise marital rape.

The government’s stand on marital rape hasn’t changed even though a recent report submitted by amicus curiae Indira Jaising to the Supreme Court had called for criminalising the offence. The report had recommended that exception 2 of Section 375 of the IPC, as per which any form of intercourse by a man with his wife, who is not under 15 years of age, is not rape, must be done away with. It also recommended that any case of forced anal penetration by a man with his wife should not be registered under Section 377, which deals with unnatural sex. It recommended that such cases be registered under Section 375 “in view of the expanded definition of rape”.

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NDA’s predecessor UPA government had also shied away from including marital rape as a criminal offence in the new anti-rape law even though the Justice Verma panel had recommended it.