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Marital Rape: The Main Root Cause Of It

"Her friends used to tell her it wasn't rape if the man was your husband. She didn't say anything, but inside she seethed; she wanted to take a knife to their faces."-F.H. Batacan

This saying I think, very rightly expresses the amount of rage a woman has when she suffers from forceful marital rape. In the recent judgment by the Delhi High Court bench comprising of two judges, in response of the petition by a woman for criminalising marital rape, has received many differing views from different sections of the society. On one hand, people believe it as a very needful step in today's world where women are still being ostracized to even voice out the problem of marital rape. On the other hand, there are a group of people who are still thinking of it that will create unwarranted complaints against men.

The petition was heard by a two judges bench comprising of Justice Rajiv Shakdher and Justice C Hari Shankar. While Justice Rajiv Shakdher struck down the exception of marital rape under Section 375 of the IPC, which says that sexual intercourse by a man to his wife aged above 18 years is not rape even if it is without her consent.

He said it to be totally demeaning and unconstitutional to women's sexual right and liberty in general. He favoured in striking down the marital rape being "unconstitutional" and said "it would be tragic if a married woman's call for justice is not heard even after 162 years. Whereas Justice C Hari Shankar, held to not to be "unconstitutional and was based on intelligible differentia".

What I really think is that there should be a solution brought to this convoluted situation. "Among married women aged 1849 who have ever experienced sexual violence, 83% identify their current spouse and 13% name a prior husband as perpetrator," states the National Family Health Survey 5 (201921). The majority of women who reported being sexually assaulted by their husbands live in Karnataka (10.3).

West Bengal (9), Bihar (8.1), and Ladakh come next (7.7). Only a small percentage of these women sought assistance after being subjected to physical or sexual abuse by their partners. The poll found that wealth and education also had a significant impact. For instance, 7.2% of married women with fewer than five years of education have experienced sexual assault at the hands of their spouses.

Even if the petition by the women in Supreme Court becomes successful in criminalising marital rape, it would only be a fig-tale to the whole sexual violence situation on women by their partners. The main focus here comes to the point of lack of education and basic values of gender equality and respect not being enshrined in the conscience of the people. The thought of a socially accepted norm of marriage, rather a piece of paper giving authority to sexually abuse the wife as per convenience is the main matter of concern. This lets us to think of the thought process of the people of India.

I personally believe that such brutal sexual force on the wife is done mainly by the men to prove self-complacency of being the 'men', and having authority over the other gender. The feeling, rather the attitude of being a man gets hurt if they face any difficulty in the outside world and closed walls and a vulnerable wife is what they get to flush their anger and insult. Many villages in India have older people of the thought of being called a man by the amount of sexual force they can use on their wife.

In this situation of toxic masculinity, there is amply wrong forces acting in the favour of increasing marital rape. We better focus on this on going problem or we soon will be in a stage of utter nonsense and ill logic. Written By: Shravasti Yadav, 2nd Year Student At Gujarat National Law University

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