Central Govt : Don't Blindly Follow Other Countries In Criminalising Marital Rape

Centre opposes PILs on criminalising marital rape on the basis of concerns revolving around misuse of such power, evidence, and the breaking of marriages.

Akshata Manvikar
Jan 29, 2022 04:29 IST
SC on Marital Rape
Criminalising Marital Rape : The centre has opposed the public interest litigation related to “marital rape” stating to the the Delhi High Court. They highlighted the concerns relating to lack of a proper mechanism to prove that consent was withdrawn by the wife. Additionally, there exists the issue of the misuse of Section 498 of the IPC that deals with Dowry.

The centre is of the opinion that India must move cautiously and must not follow other countries blindly on this issue. Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) that revolves around rape cites an exception: “Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.”

“Various other countries, mostly Western, have criminalised marital rape but it 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 a majority of females, the mindset of society, vast diversity, poverty, etc and these should be considered carefully before criminalising marital rape,” conveyed the government to the court in a written submission.
Further, they pointed out that marital rape is still not yet defined in any statute or law and hence "defining marital rape would call for a broad-based consensus in society. As to what constitutes marital rape and what would not constitute marital rape needs to be defined precisely before a view on its criminalisation is taken"
While deliberating upon the matter of evidence in such cases, the centre said, “The medical evidence indicates injuries, marks or coloration, etc of the body, in particular on the back or chest or private parts, that can certainly provide ample corroboration. But this corroborative evidence may be rendered useless in case of allegations of marital rape. It will be difficult to determine when the consent was withdrawn by the married woman. The cost of the circumstantial and corroborative evidence will become futile in case of marital rape,”
The central government also highlighted that criminalising marital rape would stop all the chances of a settlement between the husband and wife.
Solicitor general, Tushar Mehta has sought suggestions from authorities on comprehensive amendments to the criminal law as the criminalisation of marital rape involves "family issues" and also the dignity of a woman which cannot be looked at from a "microscopic angle" 

The court is hearing petitions against Exception 2 of Section 375 in the Indian Penal Code, which protects men, who have non-consensual sex with their wives unless the age of the wife is below 15 years.

Suggested Reading : 

Marital Rape: We Can’t Ignore Sexual Violence Behind Closed Doors

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