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Marital Rape in India: Monalisha Singh

Marriage has been considered as a sacrosanct institution where both the partners have to perform their marital duties.But is there any equality in the relationship? Is this institution gives a license to a husband to rape his own wife? I can smell the inherent misogyny when government says ''Criminalizing marital rape would destabilizes institution of marriage and become an easy tool to harass the husband''. Such wretched behavior resonates innate societal patriarchy which over  the years is the causal factor for subjugation of woman in society.According to Morton Hunt, an american psychologist,the first to highlight the issue of Marital Rape stated that ''Rapist is a man who still believes that husbands are supposed to rule their wives''.

I am in deep quagmire that how could marital rape be less than a rape and how this kind of cruelty has been ignored.Section 376 discriminates between a married woman and an unmarried lady which is  violence of our Fundamental Right to Equality.A woman is truly empowered when she has the entitlement over her body.Women bodily integrity and autonomy cannot be violated by the legal foundation of our democratic system.This is pretty ironic that violence has been regarded as sacred and the definition of sacred marriage has totally been redefined.

According to United Nations Population Fund's report 75 % of the married women have been the victim of marital rape.Many social activists and feminists acknowledge the impact of patriarchy and masculine character of societal norms on law and reflects the precarious condition of women and those who do not conform to age old norms.

The incompetency of legal institutions to recognize the horrendous nature of marital rape exhibits the constraints of law to address such grave issues. It highlights that the law only serves the aspiration of preponderant sections of people at the expense of weaker sections of society.The real challenge for women is not only the existing societal norms and traditions but it is also against the legal system which has been epitomized as an essence of egalitarianism, reasonableness and fairness.

 In a survey conducted by International Centre for Research on Woman (2011) nearly 20 % of Indian men reported at least once having carried out sexual violence against a female partner.

Out of the total number of rapes reported by NFHS, 97% rapes were committed by the people known to the victims,out of which marital rapes accounts for 2/3rd.

There have been many heartrending stories of women raped every night, even during pregnancy and child birth. It is a physical as well as mental trauma because the perpetrator is known to the person,often very close.

Women has been treated as a commodity by male chauvinists and this commodity has been measured in terms of sexual purity.

Justice Verma Committee was constituted with an objective to strengthen the anti rape laws in the country.The committee recommended that the exception for marital rape be removed.The committee suggested that 'The fact that the accused and victim are married or in another intimate relationship may not be regarded as a mitigating factor justifying lower sentences for rape'.

The present government has failed to address such heinous crime which completely neglects the gender equality enshrined in our Constitution.

Sexual Consent is the right of every women, married or unmarried as much as men, and non consensual sex should be treated exactly the same, irrespective of the relationship of the perpetrator to the victim. It is high time when it is not only the legal reforms which is sufficient but social reforms must be given the same relevance so that this menace could be eradicated from our society.

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