According to a recent report by CNN, 94% of the women raped in India are victims of people they know very well. Unfortunately and unexpectedly, a huge chunk of these cases are perpetrated by these women’s husbands. Actually the number of women raped by their spouses outstrips those violated by strangers by 40 times.
The United Nations Population Fund estimates that young married Indian women are beaten or burnt to death by their spouses or are forced to take their lives at the rate of six women per hour. Among married women aged 15 to 49 years, it is reported that about two thirds have ever been beaten, forced to have sex by spouses. This injustice is so prevalent that 56% of India women believe that their suffering justified.
The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013
One is tempted to ask why this is so, especially considering that marital rape appears to be the rule rather than the exception. Why do husbands, who are expected to love and understand towards their wives, turn out to be beasts? The answer lies in the in the Indian legal system. Marital rape is legal in India. In 2013, The Criminal Law Act was amended to state that as long as the wife was not below the age of fifteen, any sexual acts between her and the spouse were legal.
What is marital rape?
According to the India Law Journal: “Marital Rape refers to unwanted intercourse by a man with his wife obtained by force, threat of force, or physical violence, or when she is unable to give consent. Marital rape could be by the use of force only, a battering rape or a sadistic/obsessive rape. It is a non-consensual act of violent perversion by a husband against the wife where she is physically and sexually abused.”
Who will end the suffering?
As things stand now, the Indian woman is under siege. Many suffer in silence, forced to undergo painful ordeals when they should be enjoying sex. Even though marriage in India is matriarchal, men still dominate all spheres of life. Culture is more of a hindrance than a blessing towards emancipating women.
It behooves men to take decisive legal and civic action to protect their daughters, wives and mothers from negative practices that demean the female species. The current prevalence in normal rape cases in Indian epitomizes the negative regard for women sexual rights in India. Only powerful, practical and comprehensive laws can protect women from further suffering on marital beds.