Marital Rape : A Sacred Tradition?

It is said that the worth of a civilization can be judged by the place given to women in the society. In India, we worship our strong, independent goddesses And I think no will deny the fact that women in India have made a considerable progress since independence.

Breaking the glass ceilings, recently two women (external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and defense minister Nirmala Sitharaman) have become the members of the powerful cabinet committee on security (CCS). This news is also a perfect example of women empowerment in India.

But there is still a long road to travel… Even today’s women have to struggle against many social evils in the male dominated society. marital rape is one of those serious issues.

I’m sure after just reading the term ‘marital rape’, many people will start to label me as a feminazi, pseudo-feminist, Philistine, Misanthrope, etc etc. Why? because marital doesn’t exist. according to them it is just a concept/propaganda created by “feminazis”


well, numbers don’t lie :

According to statistics from National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), every day 93 women are being raped in the country.
And almost 98% of those were committed by someone known to the victim.

According to the United Nations Population Fund, 75% of married women in India are subjected to marital rape.

the findings of the National Family Health Survey 2005-06 and found that 66 out of every 1,000 women experienced sexual violence perpetrated by their husbands. In comparison, only 1.6 out of 1,000 women had experienced sexual violence by men they were not married to.

Unfortunately, same people who were celebrating the ban on Triple Talaq are now talking against criminalizing marital rape. many of our fellow countrymen and even the government of India support marital rape.

India’s minister for women and child development, Maneka Gandhi, said in Parliament,

“It is considered that the concept of marital rape, as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors like level of education/ illiteracy, poverty, myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs, the mindset of the society to treat the marriage as a sacrament etc.”

In 2015, a news item quoted the same minister saying that

“My opinion is that violence against women shouldn’t be limited to violence by strangers. Very often a marital rape is not always about a man’s need for sex; it is only about his need for power and subjugation. In such case, it should be treated with seriousness”

It is obvious that populist pressures have played a role in her altered stance. It is unfortunate that, even in the 21st century, India still has a significant number of voices against of criminalization of marital rape.

The central government recently told the Delhi High Court that they couldn’t criminalize marital rape because it would destabilize the institution of marriage apart from being an easy tool for harassing husbands

…would destabilize the institution of marriage, Like seriously ?? Suppose even If we accept that we do have customs that legitimise the rape of a spouse. isn’t it the responsibility of the state to step in and destroy these values?

Our country has a history where the state had freed society from regressive social practices. A woman is essentially considered as chattel (owned by their fathers and then their husbands) who lacked the agency to make decisions for themselves. The vestiges of this mindset can be seen in the exception provided to marital rape.

When there is no legal right to beat, cheat or burn-alive a spouse then why the government is hesitating in acknowledging that forced sex with a spouse should not be seen as a husband’s (or anybody’s) legal right?


Do you want to read one more example of patriarchal hypocrisy?

Here’s one, Even consensual sex between 16 to 18 years old unmarried teenagers is considered as rape. But section 375(2) of IPC permits sexual intercourse with a girl child aged between 15 and 18 years, only on the ground that she has been married”.

That implies that under the exception 2 to Section 375 of the IPC, A girl under 18 years of age is seen as a child in POCSO Act, but she is no more a child once she is married. This is totally erratic. The truth is that a girl under 15 is still a child, married or not. And I think the Parliament should protect every child.

I think this inconsistency in law is a reflection of Indian society. We have one “extremely important concept” when it comes to marriage: virginity of a girl. No matter how many women the boy has slept with, he wants a virgin wife, like somehow sexual activity, is the test for ‘purity’ and the owner should have a purity check. And hence girls are taught that premarital sex is a taboo.

No matter how many women the boy has slept with, he wants a virgin wife. somehow virginity becomes the test for ‘purity’ and the owner should have a purity check. And hence girls are taught that premarital sex is a taboo.

But when a girl gets married she is given a lot of advice as to how to be ‘dutiful’ to her husband. which means satisfying the man’s sexual needs. As the milestone of marriage is achieved, same parents start insisting for the next milestone, children, and motherhood. However, consent as a concept is rarely acknowledged. And since a woman is married, it cannot be called rape.

Sex without consent is Rape. Married or not.


The Justice J.S. Verma committee, the three-member panel, which was constituted to recommend amendments to criminal laws in the wake of the national outrage over the December 16 gang rape has said marriage or any other intimate relationship between a man and a woman is “not a valid” defense against sexual crimes like rape.

The committee even said that

“The fact that the accused and the victim are married or in another intimate relationship may not be regarded as a mitigating factor justifying lower sentences for rape.”

“According to the common law of coverture, a wife was deemed to have consented at the time of the marriage to have intercourse with her husband at his whim. Moreover, this consent could not be revoked,” the committee said.

Counter-Arguments for criminalizing of marital rape and my reply to those:

1. why do we need a law against marital rape when the Domestic Violence Act includes sexual abuse?

Currently, any case of marital rape must be fought under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, which is a civil, and not a criminal law. This means, that even if the husband is found guilty he cannot be convicted of rape, only domestic abuse. Even when marital rape is recognized as a crime, the judges might regard marital rape as less serious than other forms of rape, requiring more lenient sentences, as happens in South Africa.

Civil protection under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 isn’t enough. Criminalising marital rape will be a step in the right direction to protect the rights of women.

2. Don’t you think the law will be misused by wives?

I’ll ask a counter question to those who ask such questions…

How nonsense you are to think it’s better to allow rape than risk allegedly false accusations of rape?

There is no doubt that the law should incorporate checks against flagrant misuse.

presumption of misuse of a law is far outweighed by the harm caused by not having a law.

However, a I don’t know why such presumptions pop up in numbers only when it comes to laws related to women. And I think such presumption should not prevent the legitimising of the right of women to seek justice for violations against her body.

Yet these presumptions can not be totally neglected. In that case, I would cite the example of domestic violence act, which is allegedly widely misused. The apex court recently had issued a new set of directives which said that there has to be Family Welfare Committees (FWC) in each district of each state that will have the job of verifying each complaint. Also, no arrests should be made without verification. There has been talking as to how practical this solution is, and if it can be really implemented (especially the FWCs). On the similar grounds, this law will also evolve with time.

Change may take decades, but the process must start!

3. marital rape as understood internationally cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors like level(s) of education/illiteracy, poverty.

This one is total bullshit. Does being poor or illiterate make it easier to live with the threat of being sexually assaulted?

Attitudinal change is what we need.

UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women has recommended to India that marital rape should be criminalized.

While declaring privacy a fundamental right for every Indian citizen, the Supreme Court brought up the issue of “her control over the body” quite a few times.

Justice Verma committee has also recommended the criminalization of marital rape.

So, there should not be any hesitation in criminalizing marital rape. It is also important that the legal prohibition on marital rape should be accompanied by changes in the attitudes of law enforcement agencies and society to enable women to come forward without fear, but that is again a completely different ball game and I think I have already made this post a ridiculously-lengthy one and hence I think I should stop here.

There has always been a social stigma attached to discussing taboo social issues and that’s why many of us don’t know how to talk about such issues. So, I would like to request you to see the bigger picture before commenting…

Thank You!

Published by Mahesh Mali

Author of 'Reflections of My Youth' | Student @ SPPU | Former Fellow @BeingVolunteer | Freelancer @PlayoApp | Tennis Player

84 thoughts on “Marital Rape : A Sacred Tradition?

    1. I’m following such issues since long time, so it didn’t take “days” to “write”, but I did spend hours to verify factual details like statements and statistics to make necessary changes according to it.

      Thank you Arti 😇

      Liked by 2 people

  1. It’s good to see a boy trying to sensitise others towards respecting the consent of women. Appreciate the effort!!
    A woman’s consent or choice about the guy is rarely considered and once married the consent further is not felt necessary to be considered.
    Even animals or birds have to woo their female counterparts by dancing and colours for peacock. Fights in other cases and mating calls in few others. But apparently Indian men can’t woo a woman and the only chance they have is to get married.
    Men have needs and if they won’t go to their wives for that who will they go to.
    Women are never willing to say yes but that doesn’t mean it will not happen.
    I have heard my friends saying that they were told if they were not mentally ready or mature as they call it for it to happen. Why did they get married in the first place. Should have stayed with parents.
    Parents have little control over protecting their little one once they get her married.
    Whatever it takes to maintain cordial relations and peace in family.
    We live in a country, where many a times, when women are raped, it’s suggested by everyone to get the two married to keep the honour intact. Think of the plight of a woman who were offered the solution of getting raped for life.
    It’s a real sad and tragic scenario and nobody seems to be concerned about taking some action as there are other important things to be taken care of like safety of cows, not eating beef, finding who cut the braids of women, protecting the insan rapist baba. India is indeed in a sad state.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. First of all thank you, ma’am, for stopping by… and sharing your opinion 🙂
      Like every issue related to women, society has a bigger role to play. Such heinous acts can be minimized only and only by inducing mutual respect for women from childhood itself. Also, Imparting sex education (including the concept of consent) to youth is very important.

      And lastly, I would like to request you to not to stereotype all INDIAN MEN. I accept that there may be the majority of us, who will fall under the category you have mentioned but it doesn’t mean that we all are same. #peace

      Liked by 3 people

  2. For somethings there is absolutely no way to know the complete truth, sinc ethere is still sanctity of a bedroom. So, let me ask yiu a question. What if a disgruntled wife decides to levy a marital rape charge on the husband. Now, since they are living like a couple there definitely wudve been sex. So does that mean that the husband is guilty??


    1. As you have said it’s not easy to know the complete truth… Proving a marital rape is also going to be as difficult as it is to prove any other case of rape. The prosecution will have to prove that the sexual act happened under one of the circumstances listed in the IPC. Which itself is a tedious task.

      To counter your claim that disgruntled women may levy their husbands, Let’s assume that a lady have decided to falsely accuse her husband. why would she use such a difficult way for it !? When she already have the power to do under other sections of the law.
      And, I think there should some penalty for knowingly making a false accusation, similar to the law in Singapore.

      Coming to the last point you have raised in your comment…

      I agree that in marital relationship, couple must have a history of sexual intercourse.
      I guess you know what is rape… and if you do, you will accept that marital RAPE is not something which will emerge out of nowhere. There must be some background {breakdown in their marital relationship, conflicts, weakness and so on} (Which will vary case to case) why sex is forced and rape is perpetuated by the very person who is supposed to love her.

      I think everyone should understand that the most meaningful relationship between a man and a woman is a CONSENSUAL relationship.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. I understand and appreciate your point of view, primarily because statistically speaking the husbands have a higher ratio of committing crimes against wives than the other way around. But any law that is framed also has loopholes which may well be exploited, yet, that shudnt deter the law from being framed itself. So, I support you!!!


  3. Women all over India don’t deserve this. They don’t deserve to be treated the wrong way. This needs to just stop. May this serve as an inspiration. A much sought after. You really struck a chord with your words. Truly commendable. I’m in awe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Aysha… I hope Supreme Court of India will criminalize the marital rape. That will big step forward in releasing women from one more bastion of patriarchal control.
      Thank you once again for your kind words also for sharing your views 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  4. It’s really good.. the main problem is with the attitude only. Even if there is marital rape women in India are not ready to speak up. They are the ones who is stopping themselves from empowering. Not only on this but in all aspects first girls should show the courage to question these kind of “rituals”that we are following silently. This is not about feminism. But about the self empowerment. I hope our new Generation at least will have that self realisation about their rights and security. It’s the time to stand up for ourselves..✌

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As you rightly stated, many women are not ready to speak up against these evil rituals. And yes, they should not wait for men to do something.
      “be the change you want to see in the world” can be the initial mantra to tackle these issues.
      Thank you for sharing views 😇

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right. But, see, criminalizing marital rape doesn’t mean that State will intervene in family matter. Because, I think, unlike rape marital rape will come under non-cognizable offences, which means police can take action only when the case is filed and magistrate have given them warrant.
      I guess you must have understood what I’m trying to say. Criminalization of marital rape will at least boost the consideration of ‘consent’ of women among the married couples. ✌

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is an amazing and inspiring post! The amount of research is incredible and I love how you directly referred to specific laws to point out the massive flaws in the Indian legal system, especially in terms of rape and sexual violence. We live in the 21st century and there is still such an oppression and lack of empowerment for females. The rate of rape around the world, and India in particular, is only growing, not decreasing, and on top of that questioning the criminalisation of marital rape only makes things worse. It does not help with the rights of females and only upholds patriarchal values that humans have worked so hard to change over the years. Rape and sexual violence is not okay regardless of the circumstance and I completely agree that change in attitude is highly necessary to bring about change in society. Taboo regarding sex, rape and sexual violence only suppresses victims even more which means more and more people suffer in silence. It starts with open discussion and the laws changing! My blog page talks about the issue of rape as well, focusing on the stigma surrounding male rape. I’d love for you to visit it. Thank you for a great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, buddy! This means a lot to me. TBH, If I had only “heard” about your blog theme, I would have imagined you as a someone who is a bit biased. But with your kind words, you have proved that you really want to gender-neutralize the issue of rape, as you have mentioned on your blog. I’m very happy to meet you 🙂 Keep writing! Keep up the good work!!


  6. Rape is rape. It doesn’t matter whether it is marital or non- marital. Supporting marital rape by the Government of India is a complecated political issue. But, we should raise the voice against it. Iis not a feminine issue. It is the fact that goes against the humanity. Well written and a very informative post.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Excellent Article Mahesh. It’s true that most of us Indians do not cknsider non-consensual sex as martial rape, but my own professor at college was a victim of it, so I know just how real a problem this is. Thanks for sharing this

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Awesome and thoughtful post!!
    The data you collected from various sources shows how hard you worked for bringing out your thoughts in front of this blogging community.
    Well.. I must say you have succeeded in attracting much attention towards the issue cz the article is really well penned.
    Somethings really need to be thought over and this was one of them. Thanks for sharing this post. I loved it.🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Interesting and motivating article, written by you with a good knowledge of the subject. I hope this article catches the eye of the media and the social, political and religious leaders of your country. I admit though that the problem of marital rape is widespread around the world. Male dominance over female and children is also a known and unresolved problem , not only in poor, underdeveloped countries but also in rich, industrialized countries. It will take years to change the mindset of the society. Let us keep our fingers crossed 🤞 and wait. Respect for women must start in the home.
    Anyways thanks for following me. Have a good day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, recently Supreme Court have striked down the inconsistencies in law for the minor girls, making marital rape a criminal offence for girls under age of 18 years. But as that particular case wasn’t about marital rape in general court didn’t commented on that but this is really a step forward. And I believe that honorable SC will criminalize the marital rape.
      But as you said, male dominated mindset of society might take years to change. And yes, respect must start from the home.
      Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your opinion 😊


  10. Amazing! I think of myself as a feminist and I beleive in this cause myself . The act of inflicting such agony on women individuals and for them to be trained to accept it as their fate after marriage is a strict taboo and needs to be removed from the minds of out countrymen.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Sex without consent, within or outside marriage is rape. But the setup of our society as well the upbringing of male child, reinforces the fact that what they desire must be served. Some men think that its their right just because a thread has been tied around the spouse’s neck. But that thread soon becomes a noose in an abusive relationship. Very well researched piece dealt with the sensitivity it needs. Loved the piece.

    Liked by 1 person

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