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  1. Marital rape: Centre’s stand in Delhi High Court sparks big debate on social media

Marital rape: Centre’s stand in Delhi High Court sparks big debate on social media

Marital rape: Government of India's firm stand against making marital rape a criminal offence has sparked debate on social media.

By: | New Delhi | Updated: August 30, 2017 4:36 PM
marital rape, marital rape debate, marital rape centre, centre's stand on marital rape, marital rape social media, delhi high court, marital rape ban Centre says Marital rape shouldn’t be criminalised. (IE)

Marital rape: Government of India’s firm stand against making marital rape a criminal offence has sparked debate on social media. On Tuesday, the Centre in its submission to Delhi High Court said marital rape is not defined in any statue, while rape is defined under Section 375 of IPC. It said, “Defining marital rape would call for a broad based consensus of the society.” The Centre argued, “What may appear to be marital rape to an individual wife, it may not appear so to others. As to what constitutes marital rape and what would constitute marital non-rape needs to be defined precisely before a view on its criminalization is taken.”

The Centre’s submission further said, “That it has to been ensured adequately that marital rape does not become a phenomenon which may destabilize the institution of marriage apart from being an easy tool for harassing the husbands. Quoting the misuse of section 498A of IPC observed by courts, the Centre’s sumbission said it needs to be “ensured adequately that marital rape does not become a phenomenon which may destabilize the institution of marriage apart from being an easy tool for harassing the husbands.”

“If all sexual acts by a man with his own wife will qualify to be marital rape, then the judgment as to whether it is a marital rape or not will singularly rest with the wife. The question is what evidences the Courts will rely upon in such circumstances as there can be no lasting evidence in case of sexual acts between a man and his own wife,” it added.

Centre’s submission has divided social media usersas divergent opinions have come up. Swaraj Kaushal, Supreme Court lawyer, former governor and husband of Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday tweeted, “There will be more husbands in the jail, than in the house”. When a user asked if he was defending marital rape, Kaushal replied, “There is nothing like marital rape. Our homes should not become police stations”. Journalist and writer Rana Ayyub commented on Swaraj’s stand, saying, “Ex governor and husband of MEA sushma swaraj defends marital rape. So don’t rejoice yet over sending godmen to jail.”

Celebrated author Devdutt Pattanaik, however, believes marital rape should be declared unconstitutional. “Now that we have finally declared triple talaq unconstitutional, will we please declare marital rape & homophobia to be unconstitutional?,” he tweeted. Senior journalist Nidhi Rajdan said, “India can learn something from its neighbours. Nepal has laws against marital rape, so does Bhutan.” In another tweet, she argues, “So the govt is saying it’s ok to be raped once you’re married. It’s ok for husbands to rape wives? Wives can’t say no? Pathetic logic.”

However, Madhavan Narayanan, journalist and writer, tweeted, “There is reckless lobbying by activists on #MaritalRape. Out of context statements and poor understanding of first principles.” Supreme Court lawyer Karuna Nundy, tweeted, “At marital rape constitutionality hearing today: *Govt now supports marital rape exception. In writing. * Another MRA popped up. Tomorrow.”

Maya Mirchandani, Senior Fellow at ORF, says, “It’s (Centre’s) commitment to gender justice seems restricted to abolishing #Tripletalaq. Marital rape/dowry deaths almost never mentioned. Why?”

Here is how some social media users reacted to Centre’s stand on Marital rape:

The Centre had also argued that India doesn’t need to follow countries where marital rape has been criminalised. “That the fact that other countries, mostly western, have criminalized marital rape does not necessarily mean India should also follow them blindly. This country has its own unique problems due to various factors like literacy, lack of financial empowerment of the majority of females, mindset of the society, vast diversity, poverty, etc. and these should be considered carefully before criminalizing marital rape.”

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