Implications of Maneka Gandhi’s dismissal of marital rape
So Maneka Gandhi is trending again. The last she was in news was for her suggestion of making pre-natal sex determination compulsory, as in her opinion, it would have helped the government keep a track of expected female child births in India and hence control imbalances in the sex-ratio. This suggestion received some major flak, though it made good sense to me. Had the government also worked out a policy to incentivize such registration, the policy would have been a major change in favour of women’s survival.
She is trending again, this time for speaking in contradiction with the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee, that seeks to criminalize marital rape. Here is what the Minister of Women and Child Development said in explanation to her argument through letter to the Rajya Sabha:
It is considered that the concept of marital rape, as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors like level of education/illiteracy, poverty, myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs, mindset of the society to treat the marriage as a sacrament, etc.
Keeping in view our history with the Mughals, Rajpoots and colonial powers, we can say that Indians have a very feudal mindset and they wouldn’t accept change as long as the regulatory framework doesn’t endorse it.
Statistically speaking, marital rape is not just a reality limited to the rural, uneducated poor. Rather, it is something that cuts across class and caste demographics. A woman staying in South Bombay is as likely to be raped in a marriage as a rural woman living in a remote village in Odisha or Bihar. The reason that she sites for not wanting to impose a law, is the very reason that we need such a regulation. Keeping in view our history with the Mughals, Rajpoots and colonial powers, we can say that Indians have a very feudal mindset and they wouldn’t accept change as long as the regulatory framework doesn’t endorse it.
It is saddening to see the way we are responding to these postmodern issues of life. We are still trying to emulate west, without realizing that first world problems, not only in terms of gender, but every other social situation are way apart from us due to the heterogeneity that is specific to our context. Misogyny and violence against women is something that binds women across the globe, and women must work towards molding laws in a way that builds a facilitative road to liberation.