Indian Law And The Legalization Of Marital Rape

In India, rape laws do not apply to cases where the perpetrator is a spouse.
Source: Google

Source: Google

Guwahati: Last month, the Kerela High Court rejected the appeal of a man against divorce and observed that treating a wife's body as something that is owed to the husband and committing sexual acts against her will is nothing but marital rape. A division bench of the high court said, "Right to respect for his or her physical and mental integrity encompass bodily integrity, any disrespect or violation of bodily integrity is a violation of individual autonomy."

This step taken by the Kerela High Court has been seen as a ray of hope by those fighting for the criminalization of marital rape.

The topic of marital rape and its legalization in India has currently become a hot debate among the general public.

Organizations from all across the country have filed multiple petitions to date to criminalize marital rape but none of these efforts has borne any fruitful result. 

In 2015, the Supreme Court dismissed a petition filed by a woman, citing that "the law shall not change for one woman." 

In March 2021, in a plea filed by Vinay Pratap Singh, who was accused of rape by his wife, CJI SA Bobde had observed, "However brutal the husband is...when two people (are) living as husband and wife... can sexual intercourse between them be called rape?" 

India is one of the 36 countries in the world that has not criminalized marital rape. Indian law does not hold a person guilty of rape if the perpetrator and the victim are bound by the institution of marriage, provided that the wife is 15 years of age and above.

In a recent case, the Chattisgarh High Court dismissed all charges of rape against a man citing that Indian law does not recognize marital rape as a crime if the wife is not under 15 years of age.

According to a 2013 study done by the UNFPA and International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW), only 75% of Indian men expected their partners to agree to sex, while 50% of Indian men did expect their partners to use contraceptives without their permission and 2 out 5 men agreed that women should not be seen or heard. 

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