Marital Rape in India, the Debate

by Anonymous3 on November 16, 2017 - 1:33pm

Marital rape has been criminalised in most of the world since the 20th century, except for India. The article, “The marital rape debate” exhibits the very common issue of sexual abuse. Marital rape is when a spouse forces non consensual intercoarse upon their partner. Right now, domestic violence is considered a crime, thus, debate arose on if domestic sexual abuse should be punishable by law in India. Some say rape is rape and the definition of it does not change if you are married or not, and others say that there is no point in criminalising it because it would come down to a he-said she-said investigation. The Minister of Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, believes that factors such as illiteracy, poverty, and religious beliefs are reasons why, in India, marital rape “doesn’t exist”. This claim led Vaishna Roy, author of this article, to question Ms. Gandhi, in saying that are we supposed to justify men forcing non consensual sex upon their wives just because they are poor or because their marriage was arranged under a religious tradition? One of Roy’s co-workers, Usha, who is a domestic help, went into work one day with a black eye. Her words were, “Husbands can hit their wives [...] it’s the norm” when asked why she hasn’t filed a complaint yet. By not implementing a marital rape law, they are basically saying that as long as a couple is legally married, forcing sex upon a spouse who did not consent to it is justifiable. Roy says that this encourages the myth of the “wifely duty” that they should not say “no” and have to be submissive towards their husbands.


Refusing to criminalise marital rape makes me wonder that places such as India who only have laws for punishing non consensual sex out of marriages, may encourage individuals to get into marriages just for non punishable access to forced sexual interactions. Although investigating such claims like marital rape may be very difficult, implementing laws will at least give people who have gone through such unfortunate circumstances a sense of safety knowing that there is a possibility to escape from it.


Roy, Vaishna. “The marital rape debate.” 19 Mar. 2016, Accessed 16 Nov, 2017.


I decided to answer to your article because I believe it is a topic that needs to be addressed in order to resolve the issue. I strongly believe in consent because of my past experiences which sensitized me to the matter. When I was 15, I learned that someone really close to me had been raped when she was my age. This shocked me because we do not understand the extent of the rape issue before knowing someone close that has experienced such horror. It made me more conscious of the social concern and made me want to be more implicated in the fight against rape. This is why this issue is important to me and I wanted to comment on your post. I am strongly against rape of all kind even in this case of marital rape. Rape is rape. Having signed a legal document does not mean an agreement in any way to being hurt and violated. The argument of culture, in this case, should not be accepted as an excuse because it threatens the physical and psychological aspects of human beings. It also violates basic human rights to integrety and safety. Culture should not win over over the humans’ fundamental rights. What other cultural practices do you think should be banned or punished?

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