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The quest for gender equity is compromised by not criminalising marital rape: Sucheta De


Updated: March 4, 2013, 7:02 PM IST
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The quest for gender equity is compromised by not criminalising marital rape: Sucheta De
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Women's rights activist Sucheta De shared her perspective on how the parliamentary panel's support to the govt on the decision to leave marital rape out of the legal framework will affect the quest for gender equity.

Q. My wife who stayed with me for 5 weeks (including 3 weeks of honeymoon) and later vanished has filed a criminal complaint on me under usual 498A/506 and DP3&4, and most interestingly IPC 376 (Rape) as well ... How did UP police booked such FIR including marital Rape and charge sheeted me & my aged parents? Asked by: Amandeep

A. Although, marital rape is presently not criminal, but definitely in a legal structure, which calls itself to be democratic it should be punishable and considered as offence. The question of misuse of law is there in any law, why to raise this question only in regard to laws for women.

Q. No question - but wanted to make an observation, what else could have been expected of these politicians....they are known to lways play by the gallery. Asked by: Anon

A. After such a huge movement in the country for women's freedom, I don't think people believe in the power of the law makers. They believe in their united power to make a difference. so, I think things would be anymore on what the parliamentarians want to do. It is the people who will force them.

Q. Regarding marital rape as a criminal offence and making it part of law would amount to looking at all Indian husbands as potential rapists. This itself is abhorrent? What is the prevalence of marital rape? Any statistics on that? Is it possible for a wife who complains of marital rape and punishes her husband continue having a normal relationship with the husband and his family thereafter? If there is marital rape, then the wife can as well seek a divorce on grounds or cruelty etc under existing laws. But the possibility of law being misused would be there? There would definitely be an increase in the number of cases of marital rape being reported. Do the women's activists want a situation in our country where husbands would seek written consent before each sex act? This can happen since in our country arranged marriages are still the norm and newly weds do not know each other. Asked by: Dilip

A. When you are afraid of the' all Indian husband potential rapist', are you also afraid of the fact that this statement would mean all Indian wives potential rape victims? If we are afraid of these facts then most probably we are visualising and legitimizing oppressive marriage life. If on the contrary marriages should exist on mutual love and respect, then definitely marital rape should be recognised, beacuse rape is not a crime of love, but of power. there is no official statistics on marital rape because it has not been recognised as a crime. the details of such hypothetical consequences can only be answered after a law is formulated. definitely the wife can seek divorce. but divorce is not punishment. the present demand is to recognise marital rape to be punishable offence. if there is a law existing with hierchichal social and power structure, definitely there will be scope of misuse of law. all of us are seeing continuously that the powerful is misusing law. we have seen how criminal acts are misused to frame the minority. do we demand annihilation of the law itself? why always raise the question of misuse of law selectively on the question of women's freedom? why to imagine women as natural miscreants of society any assuming misuse only the women in society? would not that be very very unfair to women?

Q. Is anywhere in the world, marital rape a criminal offence? Asked by: Pawan

A. Yes, in several countries.

Q. If marital rape is made criminal offence, who can prove that rape is happened at first phase? Wife can allege anytime to score over husband or even blackmail him. Asked by: sreenivas

A. By assuming so naturally all the wives will misuse the law against their husbands one can mean that it is the women who create all the problem. Further, not even looking at the mere possibility of force by the man in marriage is further explicitly discrminatory though to women.again, why to raise question in misuse of law only in the context of women's freedom when misuse can happen in ll other laws as well.

Q. I accept that any law can be misused. But here the problem it can be easily misused. The accused should be given equal chance to prove that he is not guilty. But the very nature of this law itself promotes misuse. Asked by: steve

A. Why does the nature of law promotes misuse? If marriages are based on love and mutual respect, then why would a wife misuse of law. Misuse happens against somebody who shares a negative and conflicting relation but if we don't recognise marital rape, then we are promoting potential to be raped in marriage.

Q. What is your reaction to this view that marital rape is not a criminal offence? Don't you think it is an easy way out for the law and order as it cannot conclusively prove that marital rape did occur? Don't you feel gender equity is being ignored in this? Asked by: Karthik

A. Definitely, gender equity and autonomy of women is compromised and negated by not recognising marital rape.

Q. How does this affect the quest for gender equity? Asked by: Pawan

A. Because it recognises women' autonomy over her body even after marriage. because it negates the idea that wives are property of their husband.

Q. Ma'am you must answer questions clearly if you are fighting for a law. The fact that others laws are misused cannot be used as a justification to sideline this important question. Asked by: Debashish

A. Because you raised the question of misuse of law that is why i wanted to attract yoor attention that this possibility also exists for other laws. but still we have those laws. i am not justifying misuse of law,rather i beleive that in a marriage which is based of mutual love and respect the question of misuse will not arise. and marriages should be based on mutual respect.

Q. Is it fine with you to prosecute the wife in case the husband is proved not guilty? In Indian society whatever woman speaks becomes gospel of truth. In that case there is a need for safety for the husbands too. Asked by: steve

A. I do not know which India you are talking about where whatever women say becomes gospel of truth. here we are seeing a India where rather even lodging complains of sexual harassment, out legal and investigation structures become active to prove that she can only be a lier. as soon as she complains her past sexual history is invoked and she has to go through 2 fingers test, which is again a medical rape on her. if she is habitual to sex, then it is readily presented that she is a lier. her dressing, her timing of going out is invoked that she can only be a lier.

First Published: March 4, 2013, 7:02 PM IST
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