The concept of marital rape cannot be applied in India where marriage is considered as a “sacrament”, government said, adding there is no proposal to make it a criminal offence.

“It is considered that the concept of marital rape, as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors, including level of education, illiteracy, poverty, myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs, mindset of the society to treat the marriage as a sacrament etc,” Minister of State for Home, Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary said.

 

This makes me incredibly sad and angry. Certain people will cry themselves hoarse about the ‘sanctity of marriage in Indian society’, and how long Indian marriages last. The truth of the matter is that more people are silent because of the same cultural norms the Minister of State for Home states.

Here, most women do not, or feel compelled not to report marital rape because they are financially dependent. It is not a reason to deny the existence or appropriateness of marital rape to the Indian context – it is precisely the reason that law needs to be in place.

If the women subjected to marital rape who also have to deal with poverty, financial dependence, lack of education, illiteracy and all of those other things mentioned in the list provided by the Home Minister actually had the law on their side, they would not need to suffer the prolonged ignominy of marital rape.

To take a decision like this is to completely disenfranchise the woman in a marriage, to deny her will altogether. A plethora of online comments and truly, patriarchal attitudes in India aver that it is not the prerogative of the woman to decide whether she wants to have sex or not, but merely something she must comply with to ‘please’ the man. This extends to larger Indian attitudes about sex, which deny the existence of female pleasure and push forth the notion that sex exists for only one of two purposes: male pleasure and reproduction. It is the woman’s responsibility to make sure that these two are carried out.

While opinion on the ‘My Choice‘ video was divided, it discussed an extremely pressing matter: that of female choice. Of the option to say no, which our patriarchal society does not seem to believe. Instead, our popular culture and films push the ‘persistence pays off’ idea in absolutely the worst way. That if you continually harass a woman who has said no once, twice, three times or more, she will eventually say yes, and she must say yes because how dare she reject a man? This attitude is also what goes through the minds of those who carry out acid or other attacks on women who have ‘rejected’ them. By exercising their own choice to not respond to advances they do not want to.

Inside of marriage or outside of it – sex is an activity among consensual individuals. If one person is resistant and unwilling, it is rape. More and more laws and decisions are being passed in India about women, but only by men, none of whom want to bring their minds out of the gutters of the dark ages. However, discussion of any sexuality other than the male sexuality and its wonderful virility is seen somehow as a ‘blot on culture’.

We are subjects of religion-obsessed government that will bleat on about it ad nauseam to save only ONE strategic type of animal, one that will urgently pass laws to appease vote banks and discuss completely irrelevant matters to skirt attention, while issues pertaining to women and to any sort of humanitarian issue are completely ignored.

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