Marital rape is defined as any unwelcome sexual act conducted by a spouse without consent or consent obtained by force or threat of force, intimidation, or any other threat. Intercourse, anal or oral sex, forced sexual behaviour with other individuals, and other sexual practises deemed painful and unwelcome by the victim are examples of these sexual actions. It should be mentioned that in marriage, if a woman consents to sexual intercourse owing to any of the threats, this is still counted as NO.
According to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, marital rape is not legally forbidden if the lady is over the age of 15. It is only illegal when the lady is required by law to live apart from her spouse. Marital rape is not illegal in India because it is founded on historical myths that the spouse has full rights even if his wife does not consent. In truth, investigations and research have shown that marital rape has an identical long-term effect on the mentality of women, as well as physical effects.
Short-term mental impacts may include anxiety, shock, acute terror, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Long-term consequences frequently include inappropriate eating, sleep issues, depression, and increasing negative thoughts about oneself. While the bodily symptoms may include private organ injury, discomfort, ripped muscles, and vomiting. Women who have been raped may suffer from fractured bones, black eyes, bloody noses, and knife wounds as a result of the sexual violence.
Marital rape is something that has to be criminalised under the IPC, but it has not yet been criminalised. According to statistics acquired in 2015-16, approximately 5.4 percent of women reported to have suffered marital rape, which is less than the 9 percent in 2005-06, but it must be criminalised. These figures are far from accurate because this is something that not every woman can express. Furthermore, this may occur numerous times with the same lady.
It’s not like people didn’t raise their voices in opposition to the Section 375 exception. It has been observed that for many years, activists, civil society, and people in general have been calling for marital rape to be criminalised, but it doesn’t appear that it will happen soon, because the Indian Government believes that the Indian population is uneducated to understand this law, so it will not be implemented. According to a 2014 survey performed by the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in 8 Indian states, one-third of men acknowledged to forcing a sexual act on their wives or partners. In fact, the bulk of sexual abuse reported by women occurs within the confines of the marriage.
Various communities, NGO’s, the RIT FOUNDATION, and others have raised their voices over the years. In 2011, a marital rape case was reported to the Delhi High Court, and the Centre advised the Delhi High Court that criminalising marital rape would destabilise the institution of marriage and make it an easy tool for harassing husbands, resulting in the denial of the appeal in the Delhi High Court. According to the center’s affidavit, criminalising marital rape may lead to its misuse, similar to section 498 A of the IPC, which deals with cruelty to a wife by her husband or his relatives.
In a society where a woman is constantly restricted from going out, staying out, and engaging in other activities, it is not a bad thing to state that not criminalising marital rape is a curse for India. We are attempting to restrict women’s rights in order to protect men’s rights. Women are a part of society, and they play an important role in our economy; therefore, they must have the right to speak out against any such acts (for which her approval is required) conducted by their spouse or anyone else. Women are doing their best in every sector, yet males continue to dominate them, thus there should be a forum where women may talk without fear of being judged.