If even African countries can go for Anti-Marital Rape laws why can’t India go for the same? What needs to be set right here?
So, before you proceed further with this article, make sure you agree on these two points:
- Consent to marriage is not consent for sex. If the world worked like this, then probably every vegetarian guy would have been force-fed chicken Tikka and Fish Fry the moment he agreed to attend a Bengali wedding. You have been warned that we Bongs love fish, if you don’t then why the hell did you come to our wedding!
- A woman, who runs to the police station, is not always an innocent sati-savitri who has taken care of her drunkard husband in spite of physical and mental torture for long, but yielded one day. A wife can even drive a husband to the point of attempting a suicide and can even get away with it!
What we have on the plate?
We live in a country where most of the celebrities and politicians in their forties feel that we Indians are headless chickens and hence, can be fed on any kind of logic. So what, it may sound weird or so what, that we make a mockery of our constitution’s stand on societal development. This goes with the statements that notable politicians like Maneka Gandhi and H.P. Chaudhary, who have some important ministries attached to their name, have issued in context to formulation of marital rape law.
“Concept of Marital Rape can’t be applied to Indian Context….”
–Maneka Gandhi (Cabinet Minister, Ministry of Women and Child Development)
“It is considered that the concept of marital rape, as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in Indian context due to various factors, including level of education, ………….. religious beliefs, mindset of society to treat marriage as a sacrament,”
-H.P. Chaudhary (ex-MOS, Ministry of home Affairs)
Dear Sir and Ma’am, marital rape exists in India, and the reason you all don’t get to hear about this is that the machinery that you work in turns a blind eye the moment a woman wants to report that her husband forced himself upon her. No report, no comment!
Sexual torture covered under the Domestic Violence Act-2005 makes it easier for the women to avail a divorce, guarantees a monetary penalty on the husband and under the court’s discretion, ensures protection from the husband and in-laws in future. But, any forced sexual encounter experienced by a woman leaves the same level of mental agony and helplessness irrespective of whether it was a stranger or her husband. So if violating a woman is a serious criminal offence for a stranger, then why not for the husband?
The National Family Health Survey done in 2005 had carefully taken into account the question of sexual violence in 80,000 Indian families and out of them, 8.5% wives agreed that for at least once, their husband (either present or previous) had forced them to have sex. This statistics, when estimated over the entire population of India, reveals that every twelfth women is a victim and every twelfth husband is a rapist!
Another thing is that having an Anti-Marital Rape law not going to help much. The reason being, it’s not the law that matters but its implementation that holds the key. A little research would lead you to the conclusion that even in country like the United States; such laws are not put into use because-
- The victim is financially dependent on her husband,
- The victim is unaware such laws exist and even if she is aware of it, choosing the option of landing her husband in jail, over getting a divorce and moving on leads to harsh societal perception.
So the solution to this problem is not bringing in the law alone. I will discuss the strategy that needs to be involved in India, but first, let’s talk a bit about why such a law is being feared by a section of the society.
The other side of coin!
Let me tell you guys, I hate it when media decides to become a judge by itself. The moment somebody speaks against any move to protect women, many well-known media houses and their scribes put up such rhetoric titles that any incoherent voice is crushed. Consider this title by a national daily; Man freed of Rape Charge due to foetus DNA not matching , and this one too, Forensics Evidence Saves Man Accused of Trying to Kill Wife, by the same daily. Now comparing with the second headline, don’t you think that the first headline should have been something like “Forensic Evidence saves life of Man falsely accused of Rape”? Just note the subtle pseudo-feminist ideology implicated in the tone of the first statement. This is a truth in the society and not merely an act of female journalist, high on estrogen.
A huge number of cases of dowry harassment, domestic violence and rape are actually false. The saddest part is that, even though some men have to kill themselves to prove that they were cornered by the society intoxicated with media’s hypocrisy, crime episodes when shown on false cases, don’t earn TRP! For once, listen to what Deepika Bhardwaj, an activist who has worked a lot for bringing the term gender-neutrality in India has to say. In an interview, a judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court (with a condition of anonymity) confessed to Deepika, “As long as there is one genuine case of rape happening in this country, I don’t care if ten men are falsely accused of rape.”
The Way Out!
We all would agree on a common agenda that neither do we wish the guilty escape and nor do we wish to send innocent jail. So, there has to be a marital rape law in the country, but at the same time, we need to inculcate a sense of gender equality in all aspects.
The best of this starts in school. Set the right education for both the genders and inculcate a feeling of mutual respect. Next thing is to prepare the police and judicial system more resolute in terms of forensic evidence, behavioral analysis and background analysis while dealing with cases of sexual assault within the marriage. People in the media need to set the correct example of gender-equality by covering up both sides of a case. Use public broadcasters to inform citizens of India that false cases do exist. Last and perhaps the most important, take action against those women who file false cases against her in-laws or husband or both.
As a commoner we too play a huge role. We easily get swathed by rhetoric proclamations, enchanting speeches and half-baked news. If we open up our mind and for ones, decide to make a thorough analysis of the facts, before judging ones character, ability, sexual orientation, mentality and most importantly, truthfulness, half of the problem will get solved because then, our police system and judiciary, who are also a part of the same society to which we belong, will care less about public sentiment and focus more on separating facts from fiction!