Marital Rape as a subject has been a topic of discussion at gender panels and yet lawmakers and the judiciary have maintained their silence around the subject. Advocate Anuja Kapur has filed a petition in the Delhi High Court on Wednesday to make marital rape ground for divorce and seeks the government to frame laws to make it a punishable offense.

The PIL urges the formulation of clear guideline for registration of marital rape cases under framed guidelines and laws so that accountability, responsibility, and liability of the authorities concerned can be fixed. The petition is likely to be listed next week.

“Marital rape is no less an offense than murder, culpable homicide or rape per se. It denigrates the honour and dignity of a human being and reduces her to a chattel to be utilised for one’s self convenience and comfort. It reduces a woman to a corpse, living under the constant fear of hurt or injury. Medical evidence proves that rape has severe and long-lasting consequences for women,” the plea said, News 18 reported.

“There is a lot of confusion with the concerned authorities that under which law they should register an FIR/case related to marital rape. There should be a clear guideline for registration of the case of marital rape under framed guidelines and laws, so that accountability, responsibility and liability of the concerned authorities can be assigned and, penalties and punishments are awarded to safeguard the fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution and dignity of the woman in marriage,” it added.

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She noted in the petition that as per a Delhi Government report to the High Court, marital rape was already criminalised as cruelty under Section 498A of the IPC. However, it vaguely applies to marital rape in terms of its implementation as a ground for divorce while registering a case at the police station.

The plea cites 18 out of every 100 men across India believe that a husband has the right to get angry and reprimand his wife if she refuses to have sexual intercourse with her husband. “At the state level, 43% of men in Andhra Pradesh, 42.6% in Telangana, 29.5% in Mizoram, 21.75 in J&K, 20.3% in West Bengal and 19.9% in Karnataka felt the same way.

Marital rape is no less an offence than murder, culpable homicide or rape per se. It denigrates the honour and dignity of a human being and reduces her to a chattel to be utilised for one’s self convenience and comfort. It reduces a woman to a corpse, living under the constant fear of hurt or injury.

Kapur had earlier submitted the petition in the Supreme Court but the apex court refused to entertain it on Monday and advised her to seek relief in a High Court instead. A bench of Justices SA Bobde and B R Gavai directed the petitioner and lawyer Anuja Kapur to approach a high court with her plea.

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