Rape has permeated through the public conscience in recent years, owing to increased activism and chipping away of social taboos while talking about it.
After the protests in December 2012, the law has been strengthened and the new Criminal Law Amendment Act (2013) lists stronger punishments for men found guilty of crimes against women.
Unfortunately, there has also been a rise in cases where the woman uses this law to hold the man to ransom if he backs out of the promise of marriage. Though the courts have ruled every breach of promise of marriage cannot be construed as rape, we are forced wonder:
Why is the notion of marriage and sexual consent being used in the same context?
Also, there have been instances where the cases are dropped if the rapist agrees to marry the victim. And that only worsens the situation for the woman.
If they get married and the rape continues, Indian laws remain silent. In fact, under the new act, a husband forcing himself onto the wife even during separation is only still a bailable offence.
Since marital rape is not punishable under the law, this provision is misused heavily.
– There have been cases of trafficked brides who are married off into a ‘family’ only to be continually raped by all men in the household and then sold off to another ‘family’.
– There still exist instances of forced marriages and child marriages and obsolete and heinous practices like the infamous Devadasi practices where young girls are “married to the temple” and are vulnerable to sexual exploitation by the so called priests and religious leaders.
Rape is the absence of sexual consent. It is a demonic, cowardly act and being married or not should not be the line where this definition is blurred.
On the other hand, consensual sex between two adults also needs to be understood.
Maybe we need to re-look the laws and customs governing social institutions like marriages which dominate our lives.
But before that, we need to understand that act of rape and customs of marriage are irreconcilable and independent.
Feature Image: theviewspaper