The Central government has rejected the plea to criminalizing marital rape. It submitted an affidavit to the Delhi High Court on Tuesday stating its stand on the issue, while responding to an RTI filed by an NGO. It said, “Defining marital rape would call for a broad-based consensus of the society,” Financial Express reported.

The centre opines one cannot define marital rape as clearly as rape defined under Section 375 of IPC.

“What may appear to be marital rape to an individual wife, may not appear so to others. What constitutes marital rape and non-rape needs to be defined precisely before a view on its criminalization is taken,” said the centre.

Quoting the misuse of section 498A of IPC, it observed, “One must ensure adequately that marital rape does not become a phenomenon. As it may destabilize the institution of marriage. Apart from that it can become an easy tool for harassing the husbands.”

“If all sexual acts by a man with his wife qualifies marital rape, then the judgment of it being a marital rape or not will singularly rest with the wife. The question is what evidences the Courts will rely upon in such circumstances. Since one cannot find lasting evidence in case of sexual acts between a man and his own wife,” it added.

Women’s groups filed a petition with the HC seeking declaration of Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code unconstitutional. They contend that it does not include married women who are sexually assaulted by their partners.

“One must ensure adequately that marital rape does not become a phenomenon. As it may destabilize the institution of marriage. Apart from that it can become an easy tool for harassing the husbands.”

The rape law consists of a provision of excluding husband, A husband can have forceful sexual intercourse with his wife provided she is above 15 years of age. It came in 2013 after the brutal gang rape of Jyoti Singh on December 16, 2012.

Since long, women’s rights groups have been fighting to criminalize marital rape. The HC then asked for centre’s stand on the issue. It had earlier said that it cannot criminalize marital rape. “India has its own unique problems due to uneven literacy, economic and social diversity.”

ALSO READ: Marital Rape in India: ‘Sacredness’ of Family vs Welfare of Women

Swaraj Kaushal, former Governor of Mizoram, senior advocate and husband of foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, tweeted, “There is nothing like marital rape. Our homes should not become police stations…There will be more husbands in the jail, than in the house.”

 

The Delhi HC also agreed to hear an NGO’s plea opposing criminalization of marital rape. Men’s Welfare Trust represents men are victimized by the alleged misuse of gender laws, false rape cases and domestic violence cases.

Another petition shows up claiming that both partners sign legal papers giving sexual consent to each other.

“We have given a list of 51 countries that have done away with exceptions to the rule of leaving husbands out of the purview of rape. The American legislation has said very clearly that we don’t need more than one evidence to substantiate some crimes like rape,” said Colin Gonsalves, a senior lawyer representing the RIT foundation, the original petitioner in this case, NDTV reported.

A big debate has erupted on Social media on Government of India’s stand. Here are a few reactions:

 

Picture credit- Hindustan Times

More Stories by Poorvi Gupta

 

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