February 28, 2014

What happens when we allow legal sanctions for marital rape

Last I heard, the Indian government has decided on continuing to let husbands rape their wives without any legal consequences, apparently to protect the 'traditional family value system in India' (link). The gross injustice and ridiculousness of this has been pointed out by several eminent feminists and women's rights activists. Please go through the links below to understand their reasoning:

"The huge opposition to marital rape laws is shocking" - link:
// The true motive behind the opposition to marital rape might just be the resistance to a woman’s sexual autonomy. Men and even women are brought up with the idea that marriage is a license to have sex whenever the man wants. And that by refusing it, the woman is not doing her “duty”. // // What they they’re defending is not marriage per se, but the warped idea of marriage that Indians have. // - link:
"Where Consensual Sex is rape, and Forced Sex is a legal right" - link
"Making Marital Rape a legal offense is the fastest way to make it clear that Rape means forced sex, not lost Virginity or Honor" - link
Please take a look at these to see what Kavita Krishnan has to say: linklink

Not to mention, the government did the exact opposite of what Justice Verma committee recommended (link). As per my understanding, the Congress government's move was supported by the key opposition BJP; only a couple of MPs from CPI & CPM voiced out their dissent (linklink). After being a part of this move which defied the very idea of a woman's sexual autonomy, I am astonished as to how these parties expect us to trust them with bringing down sexual assaults! To see that this blatantly unfair move came as a response to the historic Nirbhaya protests (link) while ignoring the strong recommendations of the Justice Verma committee (link), I am outraged at their audacity and bigotry. I want the readers to note that criminalizing marital rape does not even require any constitutional amendment! As voters and citizens, we should be concerned about this. Please read these posts from an eminent blogger (link) to understand what happens when marital rape is not criminalized:

// Panchayat Orders girl to marry her rapist because one way to make a Rape right is to make it Marital Rape // (link)
// Girls should be married at 16 so that they don't need to go elsewhere for their sexual needs; this way rapes will not occur // (link)
// Rapist groom should have waited a little to satiate his lusty desires.... // (link)
// Pre Marital sex is same as rape.....the only difference is the consent of both sexes. // (linklink)
// This is what Haryana Khaps are not saying. // (link)
// BJP and Trinamool are objecting to  a lower age of consent on the ground that it is in conflict with "conservative norms" of Indian society. // (link)
// Is it possible to make a man see his wife as a partner, if he has been socially conditioned to see her as someone who is supposed to obey and serve him? // (link)

The confusion in Indian people about rape as loss of virginity as opposed to violation of one's rights is apparent. To understand what victims of marital rape go through, please read these:

"The darkness of marital rape" - link:
// Consider my own marriage. The physical abuse preceded the rapes. I lived in fear of his temper and of the blows that would rain down if I angered him in any way. This fear was sufficient to make me submit to his demands. I knew it was rape but I could not protest. // - link
"My experience with domestic violence" - link
"Who will benefit from criminalising sexual assaults within marriages?" - link
"In my own company in a cosmopolitan city, I know women who were horrified on the First Night" - link
"Why India allows men to rape their wives" - link

Quoting from one of the above posts (link):
// Marital rapes are not something to be tolerated by anyone; to endure rapes is damaging to the woman in innumerable ways. It is a crime that at least thousands of rapists are getting away with. That makes it thousands of victims suffering in terrified silence. //: link

I am hoping that the coming government rectifies this mistake. As responsible citizens and voters, let us keep a watch on this as a tribute to Nirbhaya (link) and to the late Justice Verma (link).

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