Rape is an act of sexual assault inflicted upon a person against their will. Whether the perpetrator of such an act is married to the victim or not, the nature of the act, the violence inflicted on the victim, and the emotional trauma faced by the victim does not change.(iStock)
Rape is an act of sexual assault inflicted upon a person against their will. Whether the perpetrator of such an act is married to the victim or not, the nature of the act, the violence inflicted on the victim, and the emotional trauma faced by the victim does not change.(iStock)

Rape, including within a marriage, is a crime. It must be treated as such

It is not simply a question of social sanction for sexual relations that marriage in conservative societies provides; it is a far more basic question of a person’s right to their own body. Sexual relations with even one’s own spouse without their consent cannot be considered anything other than rape.
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times
PUBLISHED ON SEP 01, 2017 09:41 AM IST

The recent submission by the government of India in the Delhi High Court arguing that marital rape should not be made a criminal offence is a regressive stand, and one that has the potential to be extremely harmful to victims of sexual abuse in the country. The government has argued that criminalising rape within a marriage “may destabilise the institution of marriage” and could become a tool of harassment of husbands. Adding insult to injury was the Twitter statement of Swaraj Kaushal, Mizoram Governor and husband of the minister of external affairs Sushma Swaraj that if marital rape were to be criminalised, “there will be more husbands in the jail, than in the house”

Rape is an act of sexual assault inflicted upon a person against their will. Whether the perpetrator of such an act is married to the victim or not, the nature of the act, the violence inflicted on the victim, and the emotional trauma faced by the victim does not change. If anything, the trauma is worse because the victim must continue to live with the perpetrator even after the assault. To inflict upon a person the sort of brutal emotional and physical violence that takes away even the sanctity of their own body in the way that rape does is to deny them their basic humanity. It is not simply a question of social sanction for sexual relations that marriage in conservative societies provides; it is a far more basic question of a person’s right to their own body. Sexual relations with even one’s own spouse without their consent cannot be considered anything other than rape.

By suggesting that such a law will be misused to persecute men, Mr. Kaushal and the government are attempting to perpetuate a patriarchal mindset that makes men afraid that “disgruntled” women would seek revenge upon their husbands by the use of this law. It is an argument that diminishes the struggle and emotional abuse that thousands of women, stuck in marriages that they have been forced into and cannot leave for fear of social ostracism, face every single day. It diminishes also the courage and the perseverance that victims of sexual abuse – irrespective of gender – show when they admit to having been raped in a society that continues to blame and shame the victims of such abuse. As for misuse, that is a possibility with almost every law. It stands to reason that convictions and punishments will be meted out only after appropriate investigations.

India is a land of glaring inequalities of class, caste, religion, and gender. Arguments against the criminalisation of marital rape will only add to these inequalities. What we need instead is to establish mechanisms that will allow victims to not only come forward to report such incidents, but also to help them cope with the trauma that they endure.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
As alarm grows over what appears to be the beginning of India’s second Covid-19 wave, the Union government on Wednesday lifted some key restrictions to speed up vaccination and expand the parameters of who is eligible for inoculation (Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)
As alarm grows over what appears to be the beginning of India’s second Covid-19 wave, the Union government on Wednesday lifted some key restrictions to speed up vaccination and expand the parameters of who is eligible for inoculation (Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)

A welcome step on vaccination | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 09:10 PM IST
t is important that India leverages its relative success against Covid-19 to equip its citizens in the face of a race against time against a possible second wave. Wednesday’s decision by the Union Cabinet marks a step in the right direction
Close
The critics may be wrong, they may make exaggerated claims, their activism may cause challenges in policy execution, but they enrich democratic discourse (REUTERS)
The critics may be wrong, they may make exaggerated claims, their activism may cause challenges in policy execution, but they enrich democratic discourse (REUTERS)

In defence of personal liberty | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 24, 2021 09:10 PM IST
Beyond the particulars of this case, the Delhi sessions court judgment is welcome. It did well in standing up for citizen rights
Close
There are indications that progress at the border will result in a gradual, perhaps even linked, resumption of the economic relationship. But both military and economic imperatives dictate that there shouldn’t be return to the economic status quo — and the future economic relationship must be more equal. (AP)
There are indications that progress at the border will result in a gradual, perhaps even linked, resumption of the economic relationship. But both military and economic imperatives dictate that there shouldn’t be return to the economic status quo — and the future economic relationship must be more equal. (AP)

On China, the trade dilemma

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 24, 2021 06:12 AM IST
One key reason the US has struggled to deal with an aggressive China is precisely its economic web of interdependence with China. India must continue to do business with China, but on better terms, without compromising its interests.
Close
The nature of the cyberspace is such that if attackers are able to leverage all or a combination of these weaknesses, they can cause damage that will be far greater than the sum of the parts (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The nature of the cyberspace is such that if attackers are able to leverage all or a combination of these weaknesses, they can cause damage that will be far greater than the sum of the parts (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Secure India’s digital infrastructure

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 24, 2021 06:12 AM IST
These incidents bring into focus problems that independent researchers have flagged for long — inadequate recognition of threats, a digital infra erected without adequate safeguards, endemic lack of awareness of safe practices, and a threat and vulnerability response mechanism that is far from dynamic.
Close
Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy hands over his resignation letter to Lt Governor Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan after he failed to prove his majority in the assembly, in Puducherry, Feb. 22. (PTI)
Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy hands over his resignation letter to Lt Governor Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan after he failed to prove his majority in the assembly, in Puducherry, Feb. 22. (PTI)

In Puducherry, a political crisis | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 22, 2021 08:39 PM IST
In Puducherry, on Monday, the Congress government, led by chief minister V Narayanasamy, lost power
Close
Last year, the Capital saw its most horrific violence after 36 years (AFP)
Last year, the Capital saw its most horrific violence after 36 years (AFP)

A year on, Delhi riot victims await justice | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 22, 2021 08:39 PM IST
There has to be an independent examination of what happened last February and the law will have to take its course without considering political affiliations and victims will have to be provided justice
Close
The migrant crisis, triggered by the lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the pandemic, saw, according to official figures, over 10 million migrant workers returning home. (SANTOSH KUMAR/HTPHOTO)
The migrant crisis, triggered by the lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the pandemic, saw, according to official figures, over 10 million migrant workers returning home. (SANTOSH KUMAR/HTPHOTO)

Providing migrant workers a political voice

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 21, 2021 06:56 PM IST
The economy has been opening up and many migrant workers have started going back to their jobs, but this issue must not be relegated to the margins. It’s time migrant workers get the respect, protection and rights they are entitled to as citizens.
Close
Democracies must work together to hold big tech firms accountable and preserve the basic building blocks of open, informed societies. India must follow suit. (Getty Images)
Democracies must work together to hold big tech firms accountable and preserve the basic building blocks of open, informed societies. India must follow suit. (Getty Images)

Australia is on the right path

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 22, 2021 06:34 AM IST
Australia’s decision to take on big tech firms and adopt a principled stand on the issue is welcome. And so is Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s call to Prime Minister Narendra Modi — where, according to the Australian readout, Mr Morrison spoke of the progress in the media-related legislation
Close
The winter storm in the US is yet another warning. Prepare for extreme scenarios (AP)
The winter storm in the US is yet another warning. Prepare for extreme scenarios (AP)

The rise of freak weather events

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 19, 2021 06:11 PM IST
The Texas event and other freak climate events across the world — India too has witnessed such incidents in recent years — are a reminder for governments that they must re-evaluate their nation’s utility infrastructure for climate resilience, and invest heavily to upgrade them so that they can quickly adapt and function during freak and extreme weather events
Close
Mr Deb’s comments can be read as a light-hearted joke about the BJP’s tremendous success in recent years at home (PTI)
Mr Deb’s comments can be read as a light-hearted joke about the BJP’s tremendous success in recent years at home (PTI)

The implications of Biplab Deb’s gaffe | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 19, 2021 06:20 AM IST
The lesson for Indian leaders, particularly those occupying constitutional positions, is to be more responsible, recognise boundaries, and know that jokes aren’t always funny
Close
India is also a confident democracy, willing to examine its strengths and weaknesses, and open to learning from the best (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
India is also a confident democracy, willing to examine its strengths and weaknesses, and open to learning from the best (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Engage with the academic world | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 19, 2021 06:19 AM IST
Withdraw restrictive measures on international online conferences. India must not be insecure about free academic exchanges on all subjects.
Close
In the last few months, the government has since substantially restored connectivity, released key regional leaders, including former chief ministers, and held local body elections, which saw the participation of mainstream Kashmiri forces. With this, the government believes that its move to overhaul the constitutional status of J&K is slowly paying dividends. (PTI)
In the last few months, the government has since substantially restored connectivity, released key regional leaders, including former chief ministers, and held local body elections, which saw the participation of mainstream Kashmiri forces. With this, the government believes that its move to overhaul the constitutional status of J&K is slowly paying dividends. (PTI)

In J&K, the unfinished democratic agenda

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 18, 2021 06:36 AM IST
Over 20 foreign diplomats are in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), meeting political and civil society stakeholders and assessing the ground situation in the Union Territory (UT)
Close
An increase in cases in hot spots such as Maharashtra, coupled with the presence of more dangerous variants in the country, generate fears that the pandemic may begin a much-feared second wave. (HT PHOTO)
An increase in cases in hot spots such as Maharashtra, coupled with the presence of more dangerous variants in the country, generate fears that the pandemic may begin a much-feared second wave. (HT PHOTO)

Covid-19: The threat of a second wave

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON FEB 18, 2021 06:34 AM IST
Complacency now, among governments and people alike, when a vaccine roll-out is underway and cases nationwide are at the lowest level in over eight months, can undo months of progress and sacrifices made in the fight against the disease.
Close
The government has announced radical changes to the country’s mapping policy by liberalising regulations on geospatial data and maps (PTI)
The government has announced radical changes to the country’s mapping policy by liberalising regulations on geospatial data and maps (PTI)

India’s new mapping policy is a good step | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 16, 2021 08:15 PM IST
The next generation of mapping technology is coming into its own, and the policy will enable Indian innovators to create substantial advances in mapping domestically, and eventually play a role in the sector globally
Close
It is imperative now that at least a million vaccinations are done in a day, and five million a day by April (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
It is imperative now that at least a million vaccinations are done in a day, and five million a day by April (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)

Reboot the vaccine strategy | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON FEB 16, 2021 08:15 PM IST
In the span of a month since it began the coronavirus vaccination drive, India has administered roughly 8
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP