In Kolkata, A Man Booked For Marital Rape May Not Be Penalised. Here's Why

It’s frankly alarming that so many people believe a woman trades in her right to say no after she decides to marry somebody

A recently married woman has slapped rape charges on her husband for allegedly coercing her into sex against her consent. The woman, a resident of Kolkata’s Sinthee, also filed complaint of domestic abuse and dowry against her in laws.

The victim decided to lodge a complaint after the man continued to assault her even after she got pregnant, Times of India reported.

Police investigations also revealed that before marriage women’s family was told that the groom is a senior official at a private bank, however, after reaching her in-laws home in West Bengal’s Bansberia, the woman realised she had been cheated as her husband was a junior employee at small private firm. A few days later her husband quit his job, the woman claimed in her complaint. Upon betrayal, the woman began avoiding her husband, however, he forced himself on her.

Until recently, Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) considered the forced sex in marriages as a crime only when the wife is below 15 years.

“Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being 15 years, is not rape,” it said.

However, the Supreme Court Of India modified the provision and extended the age of marital rape to 18.

The apex court said that Exception 2 to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) – which exempts sexual acts by a man with his wife aged between 15 and 18 years of age from the ambit of rape – is violative of Article 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution.

In other words, if a person will have sex with his wife who is below the age of 18, with or without her consent it will be considered rape.

Women’s rights groups,ordinary citizens and even some lawmakers have long been demanding an amendment to an Indian Penal Code section to include marital rape as a criminal offence for women of all age groups.

It’s frankly alarming that so many people believe a woman trades in her right to say no after she decides to marry somebody. While most of the developed countries have penalised marital rape, India is yet to come up with a strong law for a plethora of reasons.

The incumbent government and some men’s right group  are against making marital rape a criminal offence.

“It is considered that the concept of marital rape, as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors, including level of education, illiteracy, poverty, myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs, the mindset of the society to treat the marriage as a sacrament,” said Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary, a Union minister, in a written reply in the Parliament, in 2015.

Opposing a PIL at Delhi to criminalise marital rape, Men Welfare Trust, an NGO which speaks for Men’s right said there were existing provisions, including domestic violence law, harassment to married woman, unnatural sex, which provide adequate protection to a wife against sexual violence committed by the husband. However, no such protection is given to husbands as laws in India are gender specific, unlike in most parts of the world, they argued.