Seema Naik, a Cook has to wake up early in the morning to prepare food for various houses. But almost every day before trying to leave, her husband who comes late at night drunk, beats her up and forces himself upon her against her will. Not only is Seema late to work, but she is paralysed with a sense of fear and violation that she cannot shake off no matter how many times this has happened. Many undergo this traumatising injustice of marital rape in some form of the other. It is believed that women in this country are 40% more likely to be raped by their husband than by a stranger.
The sad truth:
As reported in 2015 at the NGO, Sneha’s Crisis Counselling Centre in Dharavi, from the 664 women who complained about domestic violence, 159 of them also reported marital rape. Ironically, the law is not in support of Indian women when it comes to this atrocity. Home Affairs minister Haribhai Chaudhary had stated that marital rape cannot be considered as a criminal offence in this country due to the ‘high illiteracy rate, poverty, extreme religious beliefs and the ‘sanctity’ of marriage’. The only exception is if the woman is under 15 years of age.
What you need to know:
The law and society perception might be all muddled up but here is what you need to know about what can constitute as marital rape.
Being forced against your will:
Karuna Desai, CA was never comfortable with having intercourse during her period. Apart from it being messy, she was very fragile during that time. The act would cause her great pain and make her even weaker. Her husband though, never took this into consideration and went ahead with sex despite her reservations for the same.
While it is assumed that husband and wife would share a healthy sexual relationship, when a wife is forced against her will, it does account for martial rape.
At a time when the wife is not in a position to give consent:
This can hold true if the wife is drugged, unconscious or inebriated. Sex between a couple should be consensual where the better half is in the position to say yes or no.
Forcing her to do things that she is not comfortable with:
When Tina Shah, HR professional would have a bad fight with her husband, he would start getting verbally abusive and forcefully have anal sex, ignoring her cries of how it made her extremely uneasy.
A wife being made to do things that she is not comfortable with during the sexual intercourse does come under marital rape.
When done with threats and manipulation:
Sometimes a husband makes his wife feel unworthy and guilty, saying that she is not a good wife if she does not give into to his sexual needs. He can even make threats of leaving her and kids, or seeking physical gratification elsewhere if the she does not do what he wants. If a wife is forced to comply under threats then it is not consensual but rape.
In a hostage situation:
Some husbands might keep their wife hostage, such as cut her from the outside world where she cannot step outside, not allow her to get in touch with anyone and take all of her money away. In such cases where the husband asserts his superiority and the wife has no option but to give into his demands of sex as well.
Marital rape is a crime that cannot be ignored. The first step of getting out of it is to understand and acknowledge that it is done in the first place.