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Marital Rape Is Not A Criminal Offence In India. How Will You Respond To That On Women’s Day?

Many countries around the world have taken strong and progressive steps to criminalise marital rape. When will India follow suit? International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. When asked, How will you respond to that on Women’s day, some influential women answered:

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Aparna Maroo Jain, Co-founder, My Second Act

Rape of any sort is rape. We cannot even think about empowering women if we use the legal loophole to say that marital rape is not a criminal offence. If it is without the consent of a woman, or even a man - it is not a consensual relationship. Which only leaves it being called 'rape'. How can we even talk about empowering women, without tackling marital issue - that impacts a persons choice, self-esteem, and the power to say no? No is a complete sentence and needs to be treated as one.

Vesna Pericevic Jacob, Holistic Fitness Expert & Author

I cannot agree in any way to this legal stand that exists in India. This is against the basic human rights. If one has said yes once, it does not stand for perpetuity. Only a woman has the complete right over her body, no one in her family can exercise such control over any women. Lawmakers need to change this as soon as possible. This pretty much assumes that men and women are not equal. I also don't think it in any way endangers the Institution of marriage, on the contrary, it will strengthen it will be based more on equality.

Saraswathi Laxman, Communication Professional

Any act which is not consensual, especially rape is an offence which should be punishable.

Yoshita Swarup Sharma, Leadership Coach, Facilitator and Co-founder ReadyToAscend

Marital Rape is not a criminal offence in India. How will you respond to that on Women’s Day? This has nothing to do with women's day! It is a sad commentary on our law and society that needs to be set right immediately and on highest priority. Talks of women empowerment ring hollow if women are denied basic human respect and dignity and violated repeatedly as in the case of marital rape. Women suffering in silence, expands the suffering in the world because children of such women will be unhappy and angry children who will spread that vibration wherever they go. Unless we recognise that happy families are the key to a happy nation and a happy world, we can keep lamenting on the rise of terrorism and fall of human values. Our lawmakers must give this the highest priority both on grounds of human rights and the larger context of a peaceful world. Maybe that's why we need women 's day. .to raise these issues.

Annu Kalra, Author, Artist & Guide

Abuse happens at many levels. Before a physical act of rape happens, there is a history of abuse and power play and violence that women are subjected to. By singling out marital rape as an offence that we as women want to criminalize we are not acknowledging the intensity of emotional and mental torture women are subjected to in a marriage. We need to alter the dynamics of man-women relationships, of our understanding of marriage and mostly call out the misogyny, not only in men but in women themselves too. In an environment where young girls are getting raped and despite available evidence the culprits not being brought to justice, how will making marital rape an offence actually help the women? Plus there is the possibility of taking undue advantage of that law just as the dowry law has been used against the good guys too. We as women need to expend greater energy to bring attitude changes, to instill a sense of empowerment in our young ones so that they can stand up for themselves and for those who can not stand up for themselves.

Shalu Bhuchar, Certified Emotional Intelligence and Life coach, OD Practitioner and Consultant

Which kind of rape is? Remind me of the last time, barring Nirbhaya, that anyone paid much attention to rape. We have had everything from cellphones to chowmein to tight jeans to drinking to having male friends to being alive to having legs be blamed for women getting raped. Where is it an offence? On a serious, non-sarcastic note, until we don’t start doing death penalties for every proven rape, and until we don’t start firing the top bosses for a delayed rape investigation, rape in any form is not going to go away. Marital rape is just another extension of that. We –women and men alike - need to find a solution to a) stop rape of any form and b) take care of the victims in the meanwhile instead of roasting them and raping them mentally over and over again.

Vandana Saxena Poria, Entrepreneur and Talent Ecosystem Expert

If a woman is forced into a physical situation that she does not want to be in, regardless of the relationship, this is a crime. It should be treated as so. It's inhuman to think otherwise. It is not a man's God-given right to force himself on a woman, regardless of the legal paper they may carry.

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