Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) considers the forced sex in marriages as a crime only when the wife is below age 15. Thus, marital rape is not a criminal offense under the IPC. Marital rape victims have to take recourse to the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 (PWDVA).
Type in ‘marital rape in India’ and that is the definition Google offers. The law does not even consider it illegal for a husband to rape a wife or vice versa. Rapes are a common occurrence in our country, even world over. Every other day one sees news about women being raped, even children. The cases of men being raped don’t even come out as our law doesn’t define it as rape.
Despite the educated and developing status of our country, domestic abuse, marital rape and incest are on a rise. When most of the cases go unreported due to the extreme taboo attached, marital rapes don’t even show up on the radar. A short film-maker from Visakhapatnam called Soumya Bollapragada recently made a 12.32 minute short film titled ‘I am…She’. Penning the story based on real life news reports of marital rape and incest, the short film is a haunting echo of how women face sexual abuse at workplaces and home and yet do not find the courage to raise their voice. Physical and mental harassment is something most Indian women go through on a daily basis and it is just accepted by most as a part and parcel of married life.
In our country people love to ostrich as long as they aren’t effected by something directly. Even when they are, there are certain expectations from a married woman and even women in general. Don’t like the way your in-laws talk to you? Don’t raise your voice. Your husband is hitting you. He wouldn’t have to if you weren’t so stubborn. Listen to your in-laws and husband, sasuraal jaake naak mat katwana (Don’t ruin the family’s honour at your in-laws).
Talk back and you’re asked, is this how your parents brought you up, to be manner-less? But women, my darling beautiful women, stop, listen. You are not manner-less when you demand respect because your in-laws just love to humiliate you. You are not manner-less to fight back when your husband hits you, or worse, rapes you. No matter how many people call you shameless and ask you to ‘adjust’ and learn to compromise, it is your right as a human being to fight back and demand the respect you deserve. You are not their property, you are not theirs to own and do as they wish, you are human and you are you.