A Guy Accused Of Rape Gets Acquitted By Delhi Court Because The Woman Was His Wife. Because Marital Rape Is Okay?
Over the course of last few months, I have realised that there has been a significant shift in the KRA of my job here, as a journalist. From once picking up relevant, important and interesting stories to write, it has now significantly (and thankfully for me) been elevated to giving people reality and fact checks, and getting them acquainted to basic and elementary concepts like that of rejection, consent and rape. And we say this, because when it comes to any of this, the society at large is still either indifferent or clueless about it. And that is including our judiciary, that still doesn’t recognise marital rape as rape, and has recently acquitted a man accused of the same crime.
Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code states that any and every form of sexual assault that involves non-consensual intercourse with a woman. Sounds pretty straight forward and fair, right? Except, it’s not. Because the section runs with an exception that exempts unwilling sexual intercourse between a husband and a wife over fifteen years of age.
A loophole, in not just the penal code but also the mentality of those who introduced it, that was enough to recently acquit a man accused of rape, on the technicality that he was was married to the woman who accused him, at the time of the incident. And if it wasn’t horrifying enough, the tragedy of it was enough to disgust and dishearten us.
Additional Sessions Judge Umed Singh Grewal, who doled out the judgement, observed that the date on which the woman accused the man for rape was July 5, 2016, when she was still married to the accused. Turns out, the woman was putting up with the guy in Punjab, when she came to know that he had been convicted for theft before. She had left him and moved to Delhi, but the guy pursued her, promised to mend his ways and decided to live together, up until when he stole 2 lacs from her. Later, the wife decided to not live together anymore and that is when he kept visiting her house, to establish and force physical relations.
Indian men: Marital rape is not a thing.
Indian women: 97% of sexual violence we suffer is from our husbands.
Indian men: That's culture. https://t.co/vYeFwyfvXx
— Mitali Saran (@mitalisaran) August 31, 2017
In this entire narrative, the fact that the man lied to his wife, duped her, stalked her and then forced himself on her, is crystal clear. But knowing what he did was morally and ethically wrong, the court couldn’t call it legally wrong, and that mindset has yet again cost a woman.
Rape, whether or not by someone you know, are related to or are even married to, means an act of sexual violence and assault that is without consent, and shouldn’t have any exceptions. Just because a man is married to a woman, doesn’t mean he can expect the wife to have sex with them as and when he pleases. Because the last time we checked, marriage was a communion of two individuals, which means that there needs to consent from both in whatever they decide to do.
Women, and especially wives, are not obligated to give in to the sexual desires and whims of their husband, and the fact that the IPC doesn’t recognise how wrong this is, is just painful. But then, previously, women like Maneka Gandhi have also endorsed marital rape as being perfectly acceptable. In 2016, she said “It is considered that the concept of marital rape, as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors like level of education/illiteracy, poverty”.
We have no idea what any of this has to do with raping a woman – married to you or not. Consent is a universal concept – poverty and education have no bearing on it.