by Michelle James
Marital rape is NOT a criminal offence under the IPC (Indian Penal Code). In fact, Section 375 of the IPC that criminalises rape as sexual intercourse without consent, actually makes an exception to rape within a marriage; it says, "Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape."
On Day 6 of the 2016 Prajnya 16 Days Campaign Against Gender Violence, we decided to do a chat on twitter about marital rape, whether or not it should be criminalised, and the issues around implementing the law if marital rape is criminalised.
Will criminalising #MaritalRape put our families "under great stress"? #tweetchat at 11am @prajnya. #16days #Prajnya16d16 pic.twitter.com/K5sOajh8tN— Prajnya Initiatives (@prajnya) November 30, 2016
@prajnya Anything within the commitment of marriage seems pardonable.— The Mighty Annamma (@mightyannamma) November 30, 2016
@prajnya am not sure many women know dey can say No 2 Marital rape but then its a very sensitive n private issue # Marital Rape#tweetchat— sudha umashanker (@sudhaumashanker) November 30, 2016
@mightyannamma @prajnya I get what u r trying 2 convey.Good initiative.But in India it will b misused like article 377. Awareness = Step 1— Suby (@Subytweets) November 30, 2016
@prajnya @rbhalerao190 Yes. A weapon for vengeance by women. The recent Depp-Amber case is a classic example even though its not in India.— The Mighty Annamma (@mightyannamma) November 30, 2016
@mightyannamma @prajnya My view.Awareness 2 b given 4 rural women/men who r the biggest victim/perpetrator segment.Any1 on Twitter r aware— Suby (@Subytweets) November 30, 2016
@Subytweets @prajnya Really? You would be surprised of the stories I hear. Of women, educated, rich, classy, urban women with no voice.— The Mighty Annamma (@mightyannamma) November 30, 2016
Another point of discussion was if divorce is the answer to rape. What about justice for the victim?
Many voiced the opinion that Sexual and reproductive health and rights education is the need of the hour. Suggestions were to make “consent” a part of school curriculum.
There were many questions, answers and suggestions, even from “Men's Rights Activists”. But this chat opened us up to the various opinions on marital rape and the assumption of perpetual consent in marriage.
@prajnya I know women who repeatedly suffer thru this. The best recourse seems to be divorce. For 1 off cases?— PriyaRaju (@PriyaRaju) November 30, 2016
@prajnya Yes, further punishment should be given if there's a pattern of assault. But is there any point in not divorcing after that?— PriyaRaju (@PriyaRaju) November 30, 2016
@prajnya Better SRHR education, for men and women both is the need of the day.— Radhika (@rbhalerao190) November 30, 2016
@prajnya Awareness should precede all actions in this regard. Also, 'Consent' should be made a seperate chapter in schools #maritalrape 1/2— Shoba Kumar (@shobakhanna) November 30, 2016
We closed the chat in the hope that we have created a small yet important dialogue regarding marital rape. To think, ponder and maybe, in the future, lobby for criminalising marital rape because rape is rape. Sex without consent. Our definitions matter. Our mindsets matter. Our opinions matter.
Read the full chat here.