In the much talked about and critically acclaimed movie “Pink” Amitabh Bachchan says a very credible dialogue…” When a woman says No, she means No.” In the Indian society, a woman’s no is always overruled, be it her choice of career, friends, social circle to even her wedding. In most communities, she is forced to marry an unknown person even today and although her parents have strictly reprimanded her to talk to a male stranger or befriend him, she can very well be forced to sleep with him after wedding.

Much Hue and Cry, But to No Effect

Much hue and cry has been raised by the women empowerment groups and social activists regarding this, but to no effect. Marriage, especially arranged marriage, is indeed a license to rape in India, as the government has refused to bring in any remedial measures to change the age old marital laws saying that marriage is a sacred institution. While the UN CEDAW had recommended that India should bring in the required changes in the bill to remove the exception to marital rape laws which are nicely ensconced within the rape law, the government had declined it citing the myriad values, norms and customs followed by the diverse religions within India.

“Sacred” Nomenclature: Utterly Absurd and Strongly Deplorable

This is just an attempt to put the dust below the carpet, and it amounts to declaring that no matter how educated, emancipated and even financially independent a woman is, she should suffer rape, physical and mental abuse as well as violence in marriage, just because it has been given a ” sacred” nomenclature. By implication, this argument even delegitimises divorce for a woman suffering spousal abuse, since to seek divorce would be to ‘break the sacred tie of marriage.’ This is utterly absurd and strongly deplorable.

One-third of The Men Have Admitted to Having Forced Themselves on Women

There is a far-flung evidence to the violence and domestic abuse in many marriages in India, and in most cases it leads to the male partner sexually forcing himself on the woman, although she is severely battered and bruised- both physically and mentally. A study by the International Centre for Women (ICRW) and United Nations Population Fund’s (UNPFA), conducted in eight States (Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha) asked 9,205 men, across caste, religious and income groups, whether they had ever forced a sexual act on their wife or girlfriend. Alarmingly, almost one-third of the men have admitted to having done so and that too, without any qualms or repentance on their part. This is proof enough that marriage in India, especially in the rural belts, is still a license to rape.

Listed Below Are Some of The Bizarre Pointers In The Faulty Rape Law System In India-

•    Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with rape states that ” Sexual intercourse by man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape”

•    Domestic Violence Act, 2005 provides civil remedy to marital rape

•    Section 376 of IPC which provides punishment for rape, states that the rapist should be punished with imprisonment and fine ” unless the woman raped is his own wife” The Justice Verma Committee, set up to recommend inclusive and meaningful changes in response to the anti-rape movement of December 2012, had observed that “The exemption for marital rape stems from a long, dated notion of marriage which regarded wives as no more than a property of their husbands. They have absolutely no say in the sexual part of the marriage, the husband can indulge in it any time according to his whims and fancies. The Verma Committee had unambiguously recommended that the exception to marital rape must be removed from the rape law. But this was not approved by the government.

The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 provides protection from domestic violence, but does not criminalise such violence.  Although some mindset has changed in the recent past in the urban, educated male mentality, still a lot needs to be done to bring in a conceptual change in the mindset of people regarding this burning issue. Marriage can undoubtedly never be and should not be accepted as a license to rape.

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