Marital Rape – A Crime or A prerogative

By Sudha Dixit

George Orwell had said “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful, murder respectable” BJP’s reluctance to criminalise marital rape on the flimsy ground that marriage in India is sacrosanct proves this point. Government’s attempt to justify rape within spousal relationship is reprehensible.

 A rape is a rape, just like a murder is a murder, committed by anybody. No sane society can justify a murder by husband saying ‘Oh it is between the spouses, we should not interfere’; on the ground that it is a family affair. Sometime back domestic violence too was considered a matter between husband and wife. Nobody would raise a voice. Women, too were so conditioned that they take the beating and verbal abuses but would not allow any ‘outsider’ to scold or reprimand their husband.

  Times have changed. Situations have been altered; women empowerment is raising its head. Men cannot claim and treat their wives as their property or commodity. Hence domestic violence to a certain extent has been contained. It has been criminalized by law but a man can still force his wife into sex irrespective of her will, which means that he, as husband, has right to demand sex but the lady can neither demand nor refuse to have sex. The double standard continues. It continues because of the mind – set of culturally backward section of men who are in a position of power.

 Haribhai Paratibhai Chaudhary, minster of state for Home Affairs, became the spokesperson of BJP Government. He conveyed Government’s reluctance to criminalise marital rape. Reason given is old cliché that marriage in India is sacred. Ask Indian women whether it is sacred or demonic? How can marriage be sacred if it brings only woes to one gender and all pleasure to the other? Rape within a spousal relation ship is not a crime, Why? The minister explains,  shamelessly and despicably, that due to factors  such as illiteracy, poverty  i.e. women  being  non – earning  members, social  customs and  values, also  the concept  that marriage is a sacrament, the notion of  criminalization  of marital  rape cannot be  applied  in India. Well, in that case , the Islamic  or  Talibanic  concept of  women being  inferior & thus  should be  deprived of  education, freedom  of movement  or driving  is  very much  justified; it is their  custom their culture and their values. Why go to outside, our own home grown rapists commit the crime and blame the victim for provocation. The very idea that women should not resist their amorous overture is instilled in men from infancy. The complete onus of ‘Maryada’ (honour) on women. Despite being the victim they have to take the blame. They must remain silent after rape – marital or otherwise – to save their and their family’s honour. And boys will always be boys, as claimed by another culturally challenged big wig, Mulayam Singh.

 If this is Indian culture then we should rewrite the definition of culture. In 2013, despite Justice Verma’s observation that forced sex / sexual violence between husband and wife should be considered as rape & punished as criminal offence, UPA Government declined it, arguing that such a move would destroy the institution of marriage. Now BJP is also following the same backward path.

 Women now are not that illiterate or financially dependent. The lava boiling in their heart will be more than enough to destroy this so called sacred institution of marriage, if corrective measures are not taken. Is our government living in dark ages? Are these backward people decorating (or defecating) the seat of power, have not grown with time? They are holding on to the out dated ideas. Their Khap mentality is dragging all progressive steps in reverse direction. The Government’s patriarchic mentality and misogyny will cost it a large percentage of voters i.e. women. Women are not going to tolerate abusive and criminally inclined men – be it their spouse or the government. Women are evolving, they are progressing at a slow but steady pace. Men in their comfort zone are lagging behind. Education, financial independence and social media availability has made women more vocal now. They are in no mood to take any nonsense from their worse – halves. Men cannot afford to be better half, if women become bitter half. Definitely, the Government comprised of intellectually – challenged ministers cannot ignore the fact that nobody can take women for granted, even if she is his wife. Remember the Sanskrit proverb: –  Yatr naryastu  poojyante  ramante  tatr  devtah. (Gods live there, where women are worshipped)

About The Author:  Sudha Dixit is from Lucknow and studied at Aligarh Muslim Univ., Lucknow Univ. and Banaras Hindu University. She currently resides in Bangalore. She writes articles, poems in both Hindi & English. Her hobbies include painting and reading.

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