Why India doesn’t find time to protest against marital rape

It seems we Indians never depict any outrage or protest against a case of marital rape.

Written by Devanik Saha | New Delhi | Updated: December 16, 2014 6:30 pm

rape_1December 16, 2012 is etched in every Indian’s mind. A young girl’s evening out with her friend turned into the most horrific and brutal day in her life.

Brutally gang raped by six men, she succumbed to injuries. The angry protests that followed were unprecedented in the history of Independent India.

A few months ago, a 6-year-old girl was raped by a teacher in a private school in Bangalore. There was more outrage.

More recently, a young woman was raped by a cab driver on her way back home from Gurgaon. Not surprisingly, there was a media overkill on the incident and Facebook and Twitter were filled with denunciation and criticism.

But when a woman in Uttar Pradesh was raped by her husband and his two friends recently, the same media didn’t give it much coverage and there wasn’t any sign of criticism by the public, even on social networks.

rape_2It seems we Indians never depict any outrage or protest against a case of marital rape. And there are many such cases. In November, a woman in Jaipur registered a case against her husband alleging that he raped her for two years after their marriage. But again, it didn’t spark off even the slightest fury from anyone.

Under the Indian Penal Code, marital rape is not covered by the ordinary rape laws and is a form of non-criminal domestic violence. Also, according to IPC Section 375, which says that sexual intercourse or sexual acts by man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape; in fact exempts spouses from prosecution except in cases of legal separation.

According to a recent gender study conducted by International Centre for Research on Women and United Nations Family and Population Fund in India, 1 out of every 3 husbands admitted to forced sexual acts on their wives. Additionally, the National Family Health Survey data states that 97.6% of sexual violence acts on women are committed by husbands.

In spite of the horrific prevalence of marital rapes in our society, it is appalling that we turn our back on it and keep mum. Just because marital rape is not punishable by law, does it mean that we silently accept it? The big names of the Indian Internet era didn’t adhere to the same principles of silence when Section 377 was criminalised by the Supreme Court. They still protested, campaigned on the streets, wrote letters to politicians and expressed solidarity with queer people. Isn’t this also a worthy case for their attention.

The big names of the Indian Internet era didn’t adhere to the same principles of silence when Section 377 was criminalised by the Supreme Court. They still protested, campaigned on the streets, wrote letters to politicians and expressed solidarity with queer people. Isn’t this also a worthy case for their attention.

Personally, I have seen numerous friends sharing Facebook statuses about expressing solidarity for the December 16 and other rape victims, but when it comes to marriage, they think that a husband has a birth right to his wife’s body and marital rape is just a misnomer.

Therefore, this leaves no room for doubt that despite calling ourselves modern and vociferously censuring the government for not being able to ensure the safety of women, we fundamentally remain a patriarchal society. We remain wary of protesting and raising our voice against marital rape in the fear that it might expose our own darker selves.

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    Bhagwad Jal
    Jan 14, 2015 at 6:08 pm
    This has nothing to do about "spreading ourselves too thin". The law speaks about what is right...and what is wrong. Marital rape is wrong. Let's establish that fact first and foremost. There is never any "right time" in the future. The only time is now.
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      Deepak Ghanvatkar
      Apr 29, 2015 at 9:47 pm
      Sir, when we talk of making something a crime we must answer two questions 1) if it can be implemented 2) can the law be abused by one against another Now, the fact is Salman Khan's case drags for years and is it a justice on the dead person? what if we add more crimes and more cases ? and delay justice further? I feel that just adding more to the list of crimes and not having adequate courts to try offences what outcome can we have? Even murder and terrorism(or multiple cold blooded murder) will go unpunished. So, if we want to make martial rapes a crime we must have adequate court to try offences. secondly, we must take enough care to ensure that husband-wife does not boil down to false case of maratial rapes. Else it will not bear the results which are preached in making the martial rapes a crime.... Please think....
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        Sagar Karandikar
        Apr 30, 2015 at 1:34 am
        Yet another day of feeling ashamed of being Indian………...
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          Stephen Prasad
          Dec 16, 2014 at 10:04 pm
          Marital rape! Dont get married stay single. So you can go to anyone you want. Male or female!
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            Piquer Porque
            Dec 16, 2014 at 1:13 pm
            Let us get the most heinous crimes first. Rapes should be stopped. Easier to detect, litigate when it is outside of marriage. Let us focus to get some real results there first.Let us not dilute by trying to do too much and spreading ourselves too thin.
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