Marital rape must be criminalised: Too many women have been harmed and treated like slaves

You have to be a woman to really know the agony of being raped. Not by a stranger but by your husband.

Even if he is forcing you to do things you find repulsive because he is stronger and because there is a social nod given to the ‘wife is your chattel and must obey’ and ‘unka apna zyathi mamla hain’.

It does not cease to amaze one that it is again men who seem to have the most ‘informed’ stance on the issue… seeing as how they are the perpetrators.

Young women brutalised by drunken sods of husbands (or those totally sober ones wishing to prove their manhood). Broken noses, hairline fractures, swollen eyes because they resisted, the first aid line is long and winding.

Marital rape must be criminalised: Too many women have been harmed and treated like slaves

Representational image. Reuters

Maybe she had a period. Ran a fever. Was just sick. Did not want to be hurt and shamed. Who’s to hear the cries in a wilderness we call a marriage of convenient silence.

Shortfall in the dowry. Cliched parody of a mother in law. Wars over land. Property. Rage, bad mood, looking for an easy scapegoat. Just for fun. This, woman, is your lot. Suffer it.

Thousands of them plucked from home at brittle ages and married off to Gulf returnees on two month’s leave, raped, made pregnant, legalised by a piece of paper and then he has gone, not to return for years, an unpaid servant for his parents his departing gift. Strangers in the night sans any glances.

He may not even know her name.

‘Not tonight, Josephine’ is a very vanilla elitist version of the lack of desire. It is also a luxury that most Indian women are not afforded.

So, how do men even get a vote on the issue of rape in marriage and why it should not be a criminal offence?

Yes, there are women who might plot against their husbands and lie blatantly and misuse this provision as we have seen with the dowry act and the way some men were held to ransom and emotional blackmail. It isn’t a poor man’s prerogative only. I know of wives who have tortured their husbands with lies and horrendous FIRs not the least based in truth.

But the greater good prevails, Maneka. How can someone like you who cries copious tears over animal cruelty be so comfortable with cruelty to battered women. Which family has its eggs sunny side up when 'battering' the mother is a sordid secret... what values and sanctity are we protecting by not making forcible physical violence a crime.

By this yardstick, if a man murders his wife, well, it is his wife, crap happens.

Far too many wives are being harmed and treated like slaves. Far too many women have brutish husbands who make love like they eat, with a lot of noise and little finesse. Animals snuffling at the trough.

Stats show that over 90 per cent women have suffered acts of sexual harassment. The other ten probably don’t admit it or have no faith in the system so why create a fuss, the wound will heal in time… from groping in the bus to lewdness to walking the gauntlet of roadside romeos, the fear is palpable.

Can men really decide for women what is rape and what is not. Every day an average of 92 women get raped in India... these are the reported cases and, frankly, seem paltry compared to what must really be happening.

Till 1975 even the US did not have a ‘rape in marriage’ law. In 1984 judge Sol Wachtler stated that "a marriage license should not be viewed as a license for a husband to violently or forcibly rape his wife with impunity.”

It speaks a lot for male chauvinism that in 1983 the marital rape law figured prominently in Parliament and most of the MPs were against it. Frozen as a low priority till 2012 when it was whipped up again as part of the Criminal law Amendment Bill the Standing Committee on Home Affairs said that an aggrieved woman has “other means of approaching the court” and that “if marital rape is brought under the law, the family system will be under stress.”

Since none of them were victims of rape this assessment at best was soaked in testosterone. Sure, if a woman is being physically tortured in a ten by ten room with the children listening in, that does a lot for reducing family stress if she does not complain.

Good grief, how can we be so blind to the pain? If you ask me, the high rate of rape is directly linked to young boys learning at daddy’s knee that Mommy is an ‘object’ and then listening to the audio track ever so often, confirming in their adolescent view that women can be prey and men the predators.

When are these political ostriches going to take their heads out of the sand?

Sex in a marriage is part of love. It is not an act of savagery or dominance. You want to "tame the shrew"… tame the husband, too.

Bring in the law.

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Updated Date: Mar 14, 2016 12:37:00 IST

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