Feminism India

Marital Rape - Ignorance is Not Always Bliss.

Our culture describes marriage as a sacred institution, its very sanctity is what our tradition preaches of. But it’s a matter of great plight that even today, in some parts of the world, behind closed doors and drawn in curtains, marriage is primarily just a contract for legal sex. She is your wife and now nobody is going to question you, neither she herself. But what our men need to remember is that just because she said “I do” once doesn’t mean you never have to ask again. A woman not saying no is not a woman saying yes.

Rape - a word that we all are familiar with, seen as a depiction of power over the victim by sexual assault. Rape is considered a violent crime and carries heavy sentences, even for a first offense. On the other hand, marriage is a holy union of two people promising to spend the rest of their lives with each other. It is a sacred bond of love and togetherness. Now let's just put the two words together. One that is purely sacred and the other that is purely horrific. Marriage and rape. Marital Rape. But how many of us are actually familiar with the term 'marital rape'? How many of us know what it really means? And how many of the ones who know about it actually feel that it should be criminalized?

So many questions, but such few answers. But that’s how our country is. Neither are we encouraged to ask questions nor are we encouraged to seek answers. We escape whatever feels uncomfortable or awkward. The truth is that according to statistics most men in India, or in many parts of the world for that matter, don’t even consider this as a crime. Providing sex to the husband is considered a part of the marital duties of a woman. But the truth is that we are a country terribly hobbled by ignorance. It is estimated that only 1% of rapes are actually reported.

More often than not the answer is, “but when we are married, how is it rape?” Even women are confused about this concept. Marital rape is nothing but rape. And a rape is rape, regardless of whether it is committed by a husband, father-in-law, uncle or stranger. Marital rape, in fact, is even worse than rape for that matter, because these are the women who get raped the entire night and then get up to make breakfast for their rapists the immediate next morning. There are wolves all around the street but these men are the real wolves that hide in the costume of sheep in the houses itself. Approximations have quoted that every 6 hours; a young married woman is burnt or beaten to death, or driven to suicide by emotional abuse by her husband.

Over 100 countries have criminalized marital rape. The revolution started with women activists in America raising their voices in the 1970s for the elimination of marital rape exemption. The countries that haven’t are Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, to name a few. On one hand, we try to live up to the fast-paced growth and development of the leading superpowers and advanced countries like the US and UK and Canada. But when it comes to treating our women, we are in the company of countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan.

alt On having raised the issue of criminalizing marital rape, our law and the so-called authorities claim that in a country like India criminalizing marital rape is not possible because of illiteracy, poverty, and the very sanctity of marriage. Is illiteracy a perfect veil to hide behind and perform any kind of heinous act that you want to? To say that the institution of marriage will be threatened by such a law is to either underestimate the very real affections, bonds and negotiations that hold good marriages together despite deep disagreements and differences, or to accept that sexual abuse and coercion is so common in marriages that no man dares risk such a law.

Ignorance is bliss, they say. But in this mad world that we live in, bliss means our women are being subjected to torturous physical abuse. The one who was supposed to protect her from anything and everything wrong as he had vowed to when he married her, is now the very person responsible for her misery.

What happens when women write? Well we rewrite the world! Dreamer, thinker, amateur writer and an engineering undergraduate pursuing B.tech from Delhi Technological University.