Criminalize Marital Rape under Indian Law

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The offence of rape has long been considered a crime under the ambit of Indian Law. The law itself defines rape as being sexual intercourse that takes place against the woman's will or consent; or after obtaining her consent through threatening her or someone she cares for; making her believe the perpetrator is her legal husband; or that takes place when she is unconscious or under the influence of any drugs or alcohol; or that takes place if she is under eighteen years of age. One of the exceptions to this provision in law remains that it is not legally considered rape if the perpetrator of rape is the husband of the woman on whom sexual intercourse is being forced [by the husband], so long as she is aged above fifteen.  

In the light of recent reporting, it stands true that women in India are 40% more likely to experience rape from their husband than by a stranger. In 2015, a woman reported to having been raped and assaulted by her husband, and though she was hospitalised for the injuries she suffered, her husband was not prosecuted. When she filed a petition before the Supreme Court of India, it was dismissed, with the court saying that the law was not to be changed for the experience of one individual. Coupled with that, it has also been decided in 2012 that the denial of sex to the husband is a form of abuse. Ironically, demanding “too much” sex on part of the wife has been considered a basis for divorce. 94% of rapes in India are committed by someone the victim knows and women are 40 times more likely to be assaulted by their husbands than by strangers.

Through this petition, we seek to enjoin the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the Law Commission of India and the Ministry of Law and Justice to move towards:

  •  Dismantling marriage as an exception to rape
  • Amending the criminal legislative framework to incorporate marital rape as a crime
  • Amending allied matrimonial laws to incorporate marital rape as a ground for divorce + custodial rights over children (and appropriate guardianship laws)
  • Amending procedural and evidence laws to incorporate such norms as maintenance and other such rules marital rape
  • Installing offices such as a Guardian ad Litem to take care of the children's needs in such a setting.

 We have made a detailed case for the above points here, should anyone like to acquaint themselves with the research that’s backing our demands.

 



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