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Inclusion of marital rape in ordinance important for women's rights: Ranjana Kumari

Updated: February 7, 2013, 6:27 PM IST
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Inclusion of marital rape in ordinance important for women's rights: Ranjana Kumari
How important and relevant is inclusion of marital rape in the govt ordinance?

How important and relevant is inclusion of marital rape in the govt ordinance? Women's rights activist Ranjana Kumari joined IBNLive readers for an interaction on the issue.

Q. What will be left in a relationship if a wife files rape case against her husband? It will lead to divorce only. Why leave other things also like husband cant touch his wife without her permission, husband cant even tease wife. Man and Woman get married and sex is integral part of it. So man should also be given equal right of denying or saying NO to sex when wife wants it...will you woman be ready for it? Asked by: Amit Rathi

A. I agree that sex is an integral part of a married life but this does not mean that women should be coerced or forced into having sex with their husband without their consent. A marriage is also based on trust and respect and should not be underpinned by violence and fear. No-one is denying men's right to say no to sex. They have the same right as women to do so. However, we must remember that it is women who predominately experience marital rape and that this rape violates women's rights in the same way that rape outside of the home violates women's rights.

Q. How can marital rape be proved? Is our evidence gathering system competent enough to determine if force was used?What if the woman does not put up any meaningful resistance then no forensic test will prove marital rape. If in a case the wife says her husband raped her and he says that it was consensual then how can the judge on the basis of a statement alone arrest her husband? Where is the guarantee it will not go the 498(A) way which has been blatantly misused? What is there to legally deter a malicious woman from making a false allegation(social stigma aside)? Once accused a innocent man's reputation is tarnished for ever by media trials. What are the safeguards? Asked by: supratik

A. If there is coercion and force used against the will of the wife and she reports it and also if it is proved beyond reasonable doubt by producing the circumstantial evidence the court can take a view and establish the facts. no more than 2-3% of sexual violence cases worldwide are found to be false. Decent men don't rape so by that logic all men who respect women and their bodily integrity will never be charged.

Q. Ma'am, I have a very basic question. We have plethora of laws but our implementation is zilch. Don't you think all organizations/civil society should be demanding police and judicial reforms? Once we have better system, then we could have all the laws we want? I believe we are putting horse before the cart. Asked by: Saurabh Nanda

A. I agree that we need police and judicial reform in order to ensure women's rights are upheld and women friendly legislation is implemented effectively. But we need to develop comprehensive and strong legislation concurrently with this reform. Legislation should reflect how we want our society to be and should ensure the rights of citizens. The inclusion of marital rape is important to ensure women's rights in marriage are upheld.

Q. Inclusion of Marital rape is a good idea by how can you ensure that it is not used wrongly by some women. Asked by: Aman

A. No more than 2-3% of cases of sexual assault are found to be false. On the other hand, many women do not report cases of assault do to social pressure, fear, insecurity, or lack of awareness of legislation. We must focus on supporting these women to reported sexual violence. The court will make the decision on whether or not the case can be proven beyond doubt based on the evidence provided.

Q. How important and relevant is inclusion of marital rape in the govt ordinance? Asked by: Gunjan

A. If we agree with the principle of women's autonomy and bodily integrity then any forced sexual act without her consent amounts to sexual assault whether it is at home, in public places, or in the bedroom with her husband. Therefore, it should have been included in the ordinance. However, I am of the opinion there should be open debate inside and outside the parliament.

Q. The ordinance remains silent on the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). Your take. Asked by: fatima

A. Impunity for act of rape should be totally abolished whether it is by public representatives or men in uniform.

Q. Is govt's rape ordinance betrayal of the spirit of the Verma committee report? Asked by: HS

A. The ordinance has been brought with stealth. however, the message should be clear for the sexual offenders across the country that they will have to be in jail from 20years up to last day of life. The spirit of Verma Commission needs to be brought in by enacting proper legislation in the coming session of parliament as it proposes comprehensive change in the way we understand sexual assault, the law enforcement agencies, police reform and strengthening the criminal justice system.

Q. Do we need to comprehensively change India's rape laws? Asked by: sri

A. The amendment has brought in the change in the definition of rape and also sexual assault will have to be understood as all kinds of sexual offenses including lude remarks, stalking, voyeurism, eve teasing, acid attacks, commercial sexual exploitation of women and children. We encourage you to read the Verma Commission report. There is a link on our website http://www.csrindia.org.

First Published: February 7, 2013, 6:27 PM IST
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