Marital Rape: A Heinous Form of Sexual Offence

Rape is as old as marriage but there are certain kinds of sexual offences which are not even accounted for in our Indian Penal Code. One being Marital rape and the other rape of men by women. These are discussed in detail in the article with context to Sec 377 of IPC.

This article discusses two forms of rape that are not considered as rape in our society and we do not have sufficient laws in regard to the same. The first one, marital rape.

Does saying ‘I do’ mean you don’t ever have to ask again?

We are not here arguing on the fact if marriage means implied consent for sex or not, the point here is that whether that consent can be withdrawn or not that is if it exists. In my opinion, just like my right to life is absolute so is my right over my own body irrespective of whether I am married or not. One of the key reasons behind marital rape so commonly occurring in India is that India has had a centuries-long culture of arranged marriages. In fact, in India, arranged marriages are considered to be more dignified than love marriages. Thus, in the largest democracy of the world, the holiest of the practices among all religions – marriage – ends up being a mere business deal so as to protect and maintain the dignity of two families in the society.

After the girl has crossed a certain age, defined by the number and not by achievement, there is quite a lot of pressure on the girl’s family to prove to the society that they have raised a beautiful princess, for who, all men are in a queue. The qualification of a boy is measured by the pinnacle of his success and how rich he is, irrelevant of his social characteristics.

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Based on this reasoning, the boy and his family see the girl as the prized possession that they have won, instead of considering her as a family, or least, a human being. More often than not, the boy’s family firmly believes that it is their birthright to make the girl do whatever and however they wish because they protected her and her family’s dignity by marrying her. And one of the many things that the boy wants after marriage is physical intimacy or marital rape, which turns into marital rape when it is forced upon the girl without her consent. Do we treat our precious things with this cruelty?

If you look at section 375 which criminalizes rape you will find in the second exception that sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.

Sadly this heinous act is provided with a blanket under our law. The Domestic Violence Act 2005 was a much-awaited one for all the supporters of criminalization of marital rape. But what this act has done is that it has provided remedies to the same cruelty which was already covered by criminal remedies. It condones sexual abuse in a domestic relationship of marriage or a live-in, only if it is life threatening or grievously hurtful. It is not about the freedom of decision of a woman’s wants. It is about the fundamental design of the marital institution that despite being married, she retains and individual status, where she doesn’t need to concede to every physical overture even though it is only her husband. Honour and dignity remain with an individual, irrespective of marital status.

Don’t movies tell us that men want sex, all the time, from absolutely anyone who’ll give it to them?

Umm…but sadly though this is not the scenario. We might assume that if a man has an erection he must want sex because the common myth is that a man’s sexual needs are insatiable. But imagine if the same were said about women. About rape of males in the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) measured a category of sexual violence called “being made to penetrate” which captures instances where victims who were forced to penetrate someone, either by physical force or coercion, or when the victim was intoxicated or otherwise unable to consent. The CDC found that 1.267 million men reported being “made to penetrate” another person in the preceding 12 months, similar to the 1.270 million women who reported being raped in the same time period[1].

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The unacknowledged ground on the subject of male rapes by women, especially in India, is that people do not even consider the possibility of this very happening. The reason for this benighted perception may be traced back to the false notions that males cannot be vulnerable. In fact, it is considered quite inglorious when a male requires protection.

In the modern world, the prejudice against males is that no matter a sexual violence happens with a male against his will, it is a preconceived notion that the male victim conforms to it and enjoys it when of course, the perpetrator is a female. This characterizes the violence as a favour when it was in fact not. Also, most of the cases in this regard have to be kept isolated from the society because we and to be very judgmental and saying things like he is not man enough. It is important to know that the perpetrator is to be blamed and not a section of the society.

Talking about the Indian Laws on rape Section 375 of the IPC says: A man is said to commit “rape” when, except case hereinafter excepted, has sexual intercourse with a woman in circumstances falling under any of the six following descriptions. These laws are so suggestive towards the fact that it’s only then who rape and women are the victims ignoring the other scenario totally. The Law which slightly touches upon this issue is Section 377 it says, Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine. The definition of rape does not include the possible situation of men being the victims.

 This is the very reason behind the fact that there are not enough laws securing mental peace of the male individuals, by the protection of their rights and dignity, under which a male victim may approach the court for seeking justice against the violation. The only window provided is the Domestic Violence Act 2005 but it can only amount to civil damages for that matter.

Also Read  Section 511 of IPC, 1860 with reference to Section 307 and 308

Let us understand that Justice is not a finite resource. It can surely be lent to each and every one of us who needs it and with that note in mind; we shall surely take a step forward to becoming more accommodating.

Also read Witness Protection for Rape Survivors- Abyss between the Present and the Future


[1] Rosin, Hanna (April 29, 2014). “When Men Are Raped”. Slate. Retrieved February 12, 2015.