The regressive state of our country, one that boasts of being among the fastest developing countries yet somehow finds it unnecessary to provide basic rights to minorities and women, is no secret. Best portrayed in the movie Lipstick Under My Burkha by Konkana Sen, it is a reality that has been accepted of sorts.
Falling back on traditions and cultures, the notion that a women’s job is to reproduce and make life comfortable for her man still prevails and rules.
Stirring the pond, making some sense and being his own vocal self, Congress MP, Shashi Tharoor, introduced a private member’s bill in the Lok Sabha to make a difference and give women what they deserve. A bill to criminalise marital rape!
He proposes the deletion of exception 2 to section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, which states that sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape.
In a chat with young Bengalureans we find out what they think about the proposal and the need for it...
Akshita Maripeddi, an MA student from Christ University, says, “Marital rape happens behind the closed doors of tradition and decency, hence the rape of a married woman is not considered as rape but as the husband’s right. Often, marriage is considered to be a licence for sex by few individuals. In marriages where the woman is considered to be someone whose only job is to produce children, she is not respected as a human being but ill treated and used till she fulfils her assumed purpose. Marital rape violates a woman’s basic human rights and it is high time to realise that a wife is an equal partner, not an inferior who is meant to satisfy one’s needs.”
Ayushi Pareek, a digital marketing professional, believes that no women should be denied the platform to speak out against sexual harassment and assault because they have unfortunately married their perpetrators. Consent is key!
She says, “In India, thankfully in the past few years, we have had some new laws that recognise rape as the heinous crime that it is and try to bring justice faster and more fairly to the ones who’ve had to face it. But all this while, marital rape has been a grey area where women really haven’t known whether their voices would be heard and the rapists punished. And just because a woman has married a man, it does not make her ‘no’ any less valid. Consent is still important and needs to be respected, and someone who moves forward, or worse, forces their partner, is in the wrong and should have to face the consequences.”
When we asked an expert, one who is very well aware of traditions and cultures, the importance of criminalising marital rape, she was all in for it.
Suparna Majumdar Kar, an associate professor of Sociology, says, “Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code holds that sexual intercourse between spouses would be construed as rape if the woman is under 15 years of age. This places women over the age of 15, who are in abusive marriages, in a very vulnerable position as the law does not recognise marital rape as such. This is in violation of a woman’s rights over her own body and denies her the right to seek recourse when forced into sexual intercourse within the domain of marriage.”