Marriage is seen as one of the most sacred part of an individual’s life. For some, it is their life’s mission to find the perfect woman or man while for others it is carrying out an obligation forced onto them by society. To this day in a lot of households’ women are seen as a burden. Female foeticide though illegal is present in various parts of India which explains the huge difference in sex ratio. A large number of people still have the mindset of seeing women as mere objects who are born to serve their husband and produce children for his family.
This mindset makes men believe that their wives are objects and marriage gives them the license to use them in any way they please. This is the root of the problem. Rape in any context is objectively wrong. But our society holds marriage up to such a high standard that the rest of us should not interfere with what happens between a husband and wife behind closed doors. This way of thinking allows men to abuse their wives and do not have to answer to anyone.
Most countries in the world have criminalized marital rape. But India has not yet taken a step to criminalize it. Even after numerous petitions have been filed the court has not seen significant reason to criminalize the act. Often these petitions are filed in hope of making marital rape a ground for divorce. This is because marital rape is not a ground for divorce under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, Muslim Personal Application Act, 1937 nor Special Marriage Act 1954. But under the already established law for rape the court cannot make any changes unless the parliament decides to pass a new bill.
The current section 375 of The Indian Penal Code states that “ a man is said to commit “rape” when he has sexual intercourse with a woman against her will, without her consent—or where that consent has been obtained under threat, unsound mind, intoxication or under the influence of substances, or via impersonation of her husband.” But one of the exceptions to this act is “Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under eighteen years of age, is not rape.”
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor introduced a bill to criminalize marital sex along with other incentives to help women in our country. But the bill was not accepted by the government and was dismissed. This is not only a huge problem for women but our country as a whole. It shows that our country is not ready to be a developed and a forward-thinking society.
The world is changing at an exceptional state and if we try to hold onto old values that are simply outdated to this date, then the world will simply leave us behind. When India decriminalized same-sex marriage there was hope for a more advanced future society. But as long as we elect people who are far away from today’s reality as our representatives then we cannot expect a different situation.
We need to start teaching our children that men and woman do not have to follow the unnecessary norms of society. Women should not be seen as a burden but simply an asset to the rest of the world. Parents should not work towards earning money to give their daughter away on a high dowry. Instead invest in her higher education.
Help her become the best possible version of herself. Now men can apply those same principles to their lives. Parents should teach their sons that women and men are equal. Anything a man can do a woman also can and sometimes even better. Cooking and cleaning should be a woman’s job. Everyone can do their part to help around the house.
The bigger picture here is that marital rape is just one of numerous injustices faced by women every day. One of the most important indicators of a developed country is the development of both men and women. India has the potential to become a juggernaut in the world. But backward mindsets of individuals are laying waste to our resources which is being exploited by foreigners who appreciate its true value.
Statistics show that out of every 100 women 5 of them are physically forced to have sexual intercourse with their husbands. This statistic is dangerously high. These women do not deserve to be tortured under the hands of these men. Marriage is not a contract where the wife becomes the property of her husband. This is another central part of the problem
The concept of marriage
Indian weddings are known worldwide for how big and grant it is. Parents invest their whole lives savings to make their child’s wedding the biggest one of them all. This is the key problem here. Marriage is seen as the greatest moment in a person’s life. Now this in itself is not bad, but when an individual’s aim is to please society instead of truly loving and caring for the person, they’re about to marry we run into a problem. Our society measures success not by an individual’s contribution to society but by how many children he/she can produce.
The sad reality is that everyone is obsessed to reach this unrealistic society standards that in the process two individuals who are not interested to be together are forced to live the rest of their lives out together. Therefore, a couple who is uninterested in their marriage is already set up for failure. Now that the first step of marriage is complete without even getting a chance to really know each other the pressure to raise a child starts building up.
The woman probably still had a lot of dreams to complete but now is forced to stay home and look after the child. Therefore, marital rape is not only forcing sex without the woman’s consent but it is a bigger destruction of female vision in our society.
Author: Ben Jose Jose,
IFIM Law college, 1st Year