Laws against marital rape are not being used by women in 99.9 percent of the cases, and most women tend to use the law only after the marriage is over, said Union minister for women and child development Maneka Gandhi on Tuesday.
Pointing out that the government cannot intervene in the “sensitive” and “complicated” issue, she said the buck stops with how women would use the law in a “healthy, abusive or a floundering” marriage. The minister’s earlier stance on the issue had created a controversy when, in reply to a question in Parliament, she had said: “It is considered that the concept of marital rape, as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors.”
This was followed by the ministry writing to the Rajya Sabha secretariat to amend the government’s reply, stating the Indian Penal Code has provisions to deal with cruelty against women and “marital rape should be treated seriously”.
The draft of the revised national policy for women marks a shift from a welfare based-strategy to a more rights-based approach, Gandhi said while releasing the draft on Tuesday.
The policy draft that has been revised after 15 years and will be finalised after consultation with stakeholders has been tweaked to include issues such as reproductive rights and single-women concerns among others.
The lopsided family planning policies that lay the onus on women more than men is being amended to offer women more control. Consequently, there is a shift from female sterilisation to male sterilisation.
Emphasis has also been laid on cyber crime with the ministry now earmarking money from the Nirbhaya Fund to carve out a separate project in the home ministry to curtail cyber crimes.
“A comprehensive social protection mechanism will be designed to address the vulnerabilities of single women, including widows, separated, divorced, never-married and deserted women,” the draft said.
While the minister declined to comment on the contentious issue of triple talaq for Muslim women, the draft policy calls for a review of the required personal and customary laws in accordance with the constitutional provisions for “equitable, inclusive and just entitlements for women.”