When Marital Rapes Turned Nights into Nightmares

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THE OPINION- ILLUSTRATIVE
THE OPINION- ILLUSTRATIVE

“Isn’t your husband the legitimate owner of your body? “No, he is not! The victims of marital rape who voice up to preserve their bodily dignity have always been silenced. Women are socialized in a way that calls up for the complete submission of her body in a marital relationship. The institution of marriage carries inscribed notions of consent for permanent sex. Marriage is said to be one of the most sacred relationships in almost every religion. But, unfortunately, men have reduced the status of married women to sex slaves and whores.The presumption that “forced sex” is enjoyed by their sexual partners has even worsened the situation. Many of the religious verses have narrations that call upon women to sexually lure and satisfy their partners every night, making it a wifely duty. Forced sex in arrange marriages are even more common. 

The use of phrases like “non-consensual sex” for marital rapes reduces the seriousness of a heinous crime. People don’t term rape as “rape” when the perpetrator turns out to be one’s partner, which eventually promotes the rape culture. The lawmakers have often cited factors like illiteracy, backwardness, customs, poverty, religion etc. for outlawing marital rapes in India. But, were these factors non-existent when laws were passed to legalise adultery and undermine women’s dignity? Decriminalization of adultery while giving a free run to the rapist points out how laws do injustice to the subjugated class while appeasing the patriarchal structure, prescribing to the innate societal chauvinism.

A study conducted in 2011 by the International Center for Research on Women shows that one in every five Indian men surveyed forced their wives into non-consensual sex. Once a woman is subjected to marital rape, the sexual master eventually gets habituated to forceful exertion of the penis to satisfy his unending lust and hunger. The victim in such cases goes through immense psychological and emotional trauma. Even if she gathers the courage to report this to her family members, she is asked to compromise and reconcile. Her cries go unnoticed, turning her nights into nightmares. The underreporting of cases reflects how a woman is compelled to submit herself to daily abuses to safeguard her married life.

According to Section 375 of IPC,” Sexual intercourse by a man with his wife, the wife not being under 15years of age is not rape”. This openly subjects women above 15years of age to non-consensual sex. Advocates against the criminalization of marital rapes claim that wives often appear seductive with their body language that gives a hidden hint of their consent, which is unjustifiable. Others claim that it would spoil the marital relations and women might misuse the law against their partners. However, people fail to acknowledge how women are subjected to “Re-victimization” throughout her married life, especially in rural areas.

Husband is supposed to be a saviour to women, but what if the saviour himself turns out to be the brutal rapist. Whom should she approach in that case? According to the United Nations Population Fund, 75% of Indian married women are subjected to marital rapes. Back in 1889, the Phulmoni Dasi case of child marriage and marital rape on the 1st night of marriage that lead to her death sparked immense outrage leading to legal reforms. Most of the victims don’t file complaints against their husband as it could bring disgrace to the family. 

India lacks a proper legal framework against marital rapes. The Judiciary finds it irrelevant to interfere in personal relationships that could result in destabilization of marriages. The savagery committed against women has been much highlighted by the civil rights activists and the feminist movement, but no one talks about the sexual assaults faced by married men

There is a perception that men don’t go through marital rapes but that’s a myth. We won’t find statistical records of sexual assaults faced by men as they fear reporting about it that could pose questions to their masculinity. Though the male victims are subordinate, that doesn’t mean one can outweigh the sufferings of women over men. According to a report by India Today, there have been many cases where women forced men to perform unnatural sex and mocked their manhood for not fulfilling their fantasies.” In 2017, men rallied against the criminalization of marital rapes on the event of International Men’s Day in Delhi. Not every man is a potential rapist and women a potential victim”. Male rights activists have pointed that a law against marital rapes in favour of women will throw men alone in a bad light and label them as “rapist”. 

Women still have many protective laws against sexual and domestic violence but male victims have been excluded from all forms of legal safeguards. In cases of subsequent marital rapes, both male and female victims experience a mental and emotional breakdown that further leads to depression and hypertension with increasing chances of PSTD {Post Traumatic Stress Disorder}. The Right to say “NO” between couples needs to be strictly accepted. Men’s suffering has to be denormalised. The submission of morality must not destine men/women towards subjugation and assaults.

The instant need of the hour is to understand the piousness of a marital relationship. Marriage is a gifted relationship from God which needs to be respected well. We need to educate ourselves about intimacy and stop confusing lovemaking with sex. We need to gender-neutral laws for an egalitarian society that equally respects the existence of both men and women. A legal framework and stringent punishment against offences like marital rape are urgently required. Judiciary, as well as society, needs to acknowledge the criminality of marital rapes. Instead of victim-blaming, one should take steps towards reconciliation and arbitration. The spiritual connotations on respectful attitude between couples should be recognized. One should seek solace in each other through love and sacrifice.

3 COMMENTS

  1. You exaggerated too much. I don’t think it’s a big issue for couples.
    If a wife sometimes doesn’t give consent to her husband then it’s okay but if she permanently doesn’t give consent then why the hell she married?
    These all are useless movements of liberals and pseudo-feminists. By the way I never read about or heard of a male victim of a marital rape.
    And above all Islam has no mention of so-called marital rape. Quran and hadiths allow husbands to have sex with his wife whenever he wants. So if Sharia doesn’t recognize it then you shouldn’t make an issue of it. If any woman has problem with these things then she can simply file for divorce. And don’t bring ‘unnatural sex’ in it as Sharia strictly forbids it for believers. Anyone having non-vaginal penetration such as sodomy,fellatio, etc. with his wife should be punished. And I don’t think any Muslim man might be doing non-vaginal sex with his wife.
    By the way wonderful article 🙂
    Keep growing 😘😘😘

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