Marriage is considered one of the most substantial institutions in society. For most people, marriage becomes a turning point in their life, which gives them a feeling of coherence. For many others, it is an opportunity to garner acceptance in society. It is believed that the thread of a successful marriage is tied securely together with inevitable attributes of love, trust, loyalty, respect and most of all, equality. The two individuals who come together in this unified relationship are called ‘better halves,’ which gives both the partners an equal status in the bond. They have an equal right to voice their pleasure or displeasure about anything. They have an equal right to say NO.
In today’s times, immense stress is laid upon gender equality, women empowerment and indubitably safety of women. Though we wake up each morning with the rays of the sun, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that we are rising in a world of darkness, where every day we are witness to at least one devastating case of rape in the newspaper. Rape has become one of the most heinous and unrestrained crimes today and stringent laws have been implemented, to punish the perpetrators. However, in our attempt to eradicate the multiple rapes that take place every day, are we turning a blind eye to its counterpart which is equally abominable?
Marital rape is a malevolent reality that prevails in our society today. Unfortunately, very little heed is paid to this existing evil. Society views rape as an occurrence which takes place in a deserted spot, where the culprit is a stranger. What most people are unaware of is that rape can also be performed by an acquaintance and more alarmingly by a spouse. Marital rape refers to any sexual acts committed without the sanction of the individual, where the miscreant is the victim’s spouse. The concept of marriage often carries along with it a baggage of myths from the past. It is frequently presumed that marriage bears a certificate of concurrence to sexual intercourse. It is also assumed that the husband obtains an unquestionable right to sexual intercourse and the wife has no option but to be submissive.
One of the first and the most primitive causes of marital rapes is the seemingly invincible existence of male dominance. In the life of a married couple, there may be days when the woman is keen on staying away from any kind of sexual activity. According to studies, men are often more licentious than women, so when a woman takes the role of denial with regard to sex, it is often perceived as a question mark on the machismo of the husband. The concept of arranged marriages is another very dominant reason for the commitment of marital rapes. More often than not, sexual intercourse takes place when there is love, trust and an emotional connect between the partners. However, in an arranged marriage, it takes a while for the comfort and affinity to establish. Lamentably, in a country like India, it is an imposed idea that once married, a woman relinquishes along with other things, her choice of coition. In exact words, it becomes her moral duty, to gratify her husband’s sexual urges at his convenience. We live in a country where marriage is looked at as a sacrament. It is so sacred that when a one spouse exploits the body and soul of another, it is still declared ethical because the word married is blatantly printed, to protect the wrongdoing.
The Indian Penal Code has an elaborate law, section 375 which voices the consequences of rape, but there is no law to guard a victim if the offender is a spouse. Apart from physical trauma, one cannot even begin to imagine the mental turmoil that a victim of marital rape undergoes. When a person who expects honor and mutual decisions from a wedlock, becomes a prey to this crime, it leads to unthinkable extents. Research has revealed that of all the people suffering from depression, many are victims of marital rape. But their cries for help are always silenced by the existing societal norms. In spite of it being a blemish on the visage of society, India recognizes domestic violence as an offence, but rapes in marriage are still unaccounted for.
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