Marital Rape

This report is an excerpt of an interview project that i completed for one of my practical classes. I had to interview people working in NGO working for marital rapes analyze the interview.In this project i’ve interviewed Dr. Chitra Awasthi, the founder of RIT foundation that in collaboration with many NGOs to promote gender equality in India.

NATURE OF REPORT

In order to gain insight on the prevalence of marital rape in India and to promote gender and social equality in the country, the students of Mass communication and journalism were instructed to interview an NFPO (RIT Foundation) within the field of awareness through Media

There were no stipulations about the medium used or the questions to be asked. Students were permitted to select their own respondent owing to their comfort as well as good knowledge of the field. The report is directed to citizens of the country and people across nations. The report aims to start a conversation on this topic, to give women under martial rape the courage to raise their voice and to pressurize the law-makers to criminalize such acts.

MARITAL RAPE

The act of sexual intercourse with one’s spouse without the consent of the partner is known as marital rape. Whether the perpetrator is a stranger or a spouse, it is one of the most horrific acts a man can conduct against a woman. Though marital rape is the most common and repugnant form of masochism in Indian society, it is hidden behind the iron curtain of marriage.  83% of married women i.e. nearly one in every 3 women have been subjected to physical, sexual and emotional violence from their spouse. Almost 31% of married women between the ages 15 and 49 have suffered from sexual abuse cite their current husband as the perpetrator. 

Any undesired sexual actions by a spouse or ex-spouse conducted without consent and/or against a person’s will, achieved by force, threat of force, intimidation, or when a person is unable to consent, are classified as marital rape. Intercourse, anal or oral sex, forced sexual conduct with other people, and other sexual practices that the victim finds degrading, humiliating, painful, or unwelcome are examples of these sexual actions.

Rape is a crime that occurs when a woman refuses to provide her consent. It’s crucial to remember that lack of consent doesn’t always have to take the form of the word ‘no.’ It’s reasonable to assume given the circumstances. If a woman consents to sexual intercourse within a marriage because of the threat of harm to her children or herself, the woman loses her right to stay in the house or get maintenance, it is not valid consent. It is still rape.

THE CURRENT SITUATION AND STATISTICS

140 of the world’s 195 countries have already made marital rape a criminal offence. The United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Australia, and Russia are among the countries on the list.

However, 55 countries, including India, China, and Singapore, are countries where it is still OK to rape your wife.

The concept of marital rape has not been recognized until today. We’ve been lobbying for a law to make it a crime, but first we need to gather statistics on rape in marriage.

 And according to the latest National Health and Family Survey (NFHS-4) for 2015-16, 5.4% women have experienced marital rape, under this category. But while the data on marital rape in India exists, marital rape as a crime “does not exist”.

And yet 5.4% of married Indian women say they have experienced marital rape. 4.4% of them say they have experienced marital rape in just the last 12 months before this survey. The figure recorded by NFHS-3 for 2005-6 was 9.5%.

But while the data on marital rape in India exists, marital rape as a crime “does not exist”.

The data also includes entries for “forced her to perform any sexual actions that she did not want to” and “forced her to perform any sexual acts that she did not want to with threats or in any other way.”  Overall, 2.5% and 3.6% of married Indian women answered affirmatively to these categories as well. That brings the number of married women who have been subjected to what would be called rape or sexual violence if the perpetrator had not been their husband to 11.5 percent.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) ‘Crime in India’ 2019 report, about 70% of women in India are victims of domestic violence.

Marital rape exists in the data, but not in law

Despite the historical misconception that rape by one’s partner is a minor occurrence that causes little damage, research shows that marital rape has serious and long-term implications for women. Injuries to private organs, lacerations, discomfort, bruising, torn muscles, tiredness, and vomiting are some of the physical repercussions of marital rape. In addition to broken bones, black eyes, bloody noses, and knife wounds, women who have been assaulted and raped by their husbands may experience other physical consequences such as broken bones, black eyes, bloody noses, and knife wounds as a result of the sexual violence. Miscarriages, stillbirths, bladder infections, infertility, and the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases like HIV are all gynecological repercussions of marital rape.

Women who have been raped by their partners are likely to experience significant psychological repercussions. Anxiety, shock, acute dread, despair, suicidal ideation, and post-traumatic stress disorder are some of the short-term symptoms of marital rape. Disordered eating, sleep issues, depression, difficulties forming trusting relationships, and increased negative thoughts about themselves are all common long-term impacts. The psychological consequences are likely to linger for a long time. For years after the abuse, some marital rape survivors describe flashbacks, sexual dysfunction, and emotional pain.

OTHER COUNTRIES’ LEGAL STATUS

In the United States, experts estimate that 10% to 14% of married women are raped throughout their marriage. Researchers discovered that marital rape accounted for almost 25% of all rapes when they looked at the frequency of different types of rape. Given the popularity of marital rape, social scientists, practitioners, the criminal justice system, and society as a whole have paid little attention to the issue. In fact, it wasn’t until the 1970s that society began to recognize the possibility of rape in marriage. Until recently, the usual rule was that a husband could not be convicted of raping his wife because he has an implicit right to sexual intercourse with his wife under the marital contract.

Resistance restrictions are still in place in the majority of American states. There are no exemptions for husbands from rape prosecution in seventeen states and the District of Columbia. There are still certain exemptions for husbands from rape prosecution in thirty-three states. In several of these thirty-three states, a husband is excused from prosecution when his wife is most vulnerable (e.g., she is mentally or physically disabled, unconscious, asleep, etc.) and legally unable to consent. The majority of States have certain spousal exemptions, indicating that rape in marriage is still considered a lesser offence than other types of rape.

When we look at the laws of various countries, we can find that most of them punish rape both within and outside of marriage.

In Australia, for example, if a person has achieved the age of 16, he or she can petition to a judge or magistrate for an order permitting them to marry.

By 1991, however, the marital rape exception had been repealed in every state in Australia.

In New Zealand, a person under the age of 20 but over the age of 16 can only marry with the approval of their parents. For women, the age of sexual consent is similarly 16 years. The New Zealand Crimes Act of 1961 makes no provision for marital rape. In 1985, the marital rape exemption was repealed.  In the United Kingdom, a marriage between two people under the age of 16 is void.  In 1991, the marital rape exemption was completely repealed.

A marriage between two people under the age of 16 is void in the United Kingdom. In 1991, the marital rape exemption was completely repealed. In Egypt, the age of majority is 21 years old for all legal reasons except marriage. The legal age for consent is 18, and intercourse with a female under the age of 18 is considered rape under the penal code.

Various states in the United States have different laws. In the United States, the marital rape exception has been repealed in 50 states. In Indonesia, the age of majority, as well as the age at which girls and boys can marry, is 16 for girls and 19 for boys. A girl’s legal age for giving valid consent to a sexual act is also established at 16 years. Any marriage that occurs before the age of majority is null and invalid.

LEGAL POSITION IN INDIA

In India, marital rape is legal but not de facto. While in other nations, the legislative has either criminalized marital rape or the judiciary has actively participated in recognizing it as a crime, the judiciary in India appears to be working at cross-purposes. The Supreme Court ruled in Bodhisattwa Gautam v. Subhra Chakraborty that rape is a crime against basic human rights and a breach of the victim’s most prized fundamental right, the right to life, which is contained in Article 21 of the Constitution. However, it contradicts this declaration by failing to recognize marital rape. Though there have been some advancements in Indian domestic violence legislation, they have mostly been limited to physical rather than sexual abuse.

This established the notion that a woman does not have the right to refuse sex with her spouse once they are married. This gives husbands sexual access to their spouses, which is in clear violation of human rights principles and gives husbands permission to rape their women. The rape legislation only applies to two types of married women: those under the age of 15 and those who are separated from their spouses. While rape of a girl under the age of 12 may result in a sentence of ten years or more in jail, rape of a girl under the age of 15 results in a lower punishment if the rapist is married to the victim. When Section 376-A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, was added in 1983, it made some headway toward criminalizing domestic abuse against the wife.

The Law Commission’s proposed definition of sexual assault, which is wide, complete, and acceptable, could be used in place of the existing term of rape in Section 375 IPC, according to the report. The Task Force, like the Law Commission, stopped short of suggesting that marital rape be included in the new definition. Currently, India’s legal framework is severely inadequate in terms of safeguarding women’s bodily integrity and sexual autonomy.

ABOUT THE FOUNDATION

The RIT Foundation is a non-profit organizationcreated in 2009 by Dr. Chitra Awasthi, an educationist, writer, and philanthropist. The RIT Foundation is collaborating with a number of non-governmental organizations in India to promote social and gender equality.

In 2015, they filed a petition – RIT Foundation v. Union of India writ petition c no. 284 of 2015 seeking to criminalize marital rape. It will be coming up before the Delhi High Court for final hearing early next year.

“The first step to breaking the silence is having the tool to validate,” Chitra Awasthi says. The last refuge of male dominance is the control of women’s sexuality and bodies. It will take time to smash it. However, as a society, we must begin a dialogue and put pressure on lawmakers to act.”

Respondent’s Background

Dr. Chitra Awasthi is the president and founder of RIT Foundation. She has been working as an educationist with children and young adults for the past 36 years now. She is well-known in academics for her psychological insights and comprehensive understanding of holistic living solutions. With a postgraduate degree, a university topper, in sociology from Kanpur University, she has authored a wide range of books on sociology and allied subjects. Her major interest, however, has always been in religion and spiritualism. She has translated, edited, and produced secret treasures from English, Sanskrit, and Hindi, and she is an eager student of spiritual literature in the Indian tradition. Rit International is her first foray into the corporate world. She does, however, wish to help share the same knowledge to children who are less privileged, so that they can benefit from high-quality education and knowledge.