Piyali Pan writes about Marital Rape in India.
In India, we do not have laws on marital rape, even though we have strict laws on rape. There are rigorous punishments for a person committing rape, which even extend to death penalty. Death penalty as a punishment for committing rape was included by way of the 2013 amendment in the Indian Penal Code 1860, after the Nirbhaya incident, thus being a recent development.
Marital Rape refers “to unwanted intercourse by a man with his wife obtained by force, threat of force, or physical violence, or when she is unable to give consent. If we look at the definition of rape we will find the same ingredients but then the only difference is that in marital rape there is a husband and a wife. But here the main question arises that just being the husband do they get the authority to have sex without consent of their wife. What is the importance of consent of the wife? If having forced sex is termed as rape, then why not the same is considered in case of the relationship between the husband and wife. Marital rape could be by the use of force only, a battering rape or a sadistic/obsessive rape. It is a non-consensual act of violent perversion by a husband against the wife where she is physically and sexually abused.”
After the Nirbhaya incident, stricter laws were made against rape. Then, why do we still hesitate to make laws on marital rape which has been going on since time immemorial? Advancing well into the timeline, marital rape is not an offence in India. Despite amendments, law commissions and new legislations, one of the most humiliating and debilitating acts is not an offence in India. Wives can only charge for sexual harassment against their husbands or they can be booked under the ambit of domestic violence but they cannot book their husbands under the offence of rape which has much harsher punishment. In a domestic violence case, the punishment is not as harsh as in the case of rape. A look at the options a woman has to protect herself in a marriage tells us that the legislations have been either non-existent or obscure and everything is just depended on the interpretation by Courts. Indian mythology shows that husbands used to exercise control over women as per their pleasure, the same ideology being followed even today.
Even in the Indian Penal Code we will find that we have provision under Sec 375 that “Sexual intercourse by man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape.” This clearly mentions that no protection from rape is provided to a married woman if she’s being raped by her husband.
The NDA government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has time and again promised zero tolerance to violence against women. We have Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013, Domestic Violence Act 2005, along with other provisions mentioned in the IPC exclusively for the protection of women from crimes but no law on marital rape. India still figures among countries that have no legal provisions against marital rape. Steps should be taken by the legislature to enact laws on marital rape so that the fair sex can be prevented from the ordeal.
 Priyanka Rath, Marital Rape and the Indian legal scenario, available at http://indialawjournal.com/volume2/issue_2/article_by_priyanka.html.