Politics

Indian girls search to criminalise marital rape

“I told him I have never had sex, and asked him if we can take it slowly and try to understand it,” 19-year-old Divya mentioned.

“He said: ‘No, the first night is very important for us men’.”

He then slapped her exhausting, ripped her garments off and compelled himself on her.

What adopted her organized marriage ceremony in 2022 was 19 months of sexual and bodily abuse.

“If I was hurt, it was invisible to him,” mentioned Divya, whose title has been modified to guard her id.

“He used to have sex with me ruthlessly”.

Six per cent of married girls aged 18-49 report spousal sexual violence, in keeping with the federal government’s newest National Family Health Survey.

In the world’s most populous nation, that means greater than 10 million girls have been sexual victims of their husbands.

Nearly 18 per cent of married girls really feel they can’t say no if their husbands need intercourse, in keeping with the well being survey.

And 11 per cent of ladies thought a husband was justified in beating his spouse if she refused, it discovered.

 

‘Victorian mentality’

 

Under India’s inherited British-era penal code, an exception clause acknowledged that “sexual acts by a man with his wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape”.

India launched a brand new penal code on Monday however the exception clause stays — though it does increase the minimal age {that a} man can rape his spouse to 18.

Lawyer Karuna Nundy is difficult that.

Nundy, who has a case for the All India Democratic Women’s Association rights group on the Supreme Court, condemned the clause as “colonialism from a Victorian mentality”.

She holds a “fervent hope” for change, mentioning among the greater than 50 nations who’ve outlawed it.

Chief Justice D. Y. Chandrachud referred to as it an “important issue” this yr.

But the decade-long case has made painfully sluggish progress.

In May 2022, a two-judge bench within the Delhi High Court issued a break up verdict.

One choose, C. Hari Shankar, mentioned that whereas “one may disapprove” of a husband forcibly having intercourse along with his spouse, that “cannot be equated with the act of ravishing by a stranger”.

The different choose, Rajiv Shakdher, disagreed.

Shakdher mentioned it “would be tragic if a married woman’s call for justice is not heard even after 162 years”, referring to the British-era statute.

Monika Tiwary from Shakti Shalini, a rights group which helps sexual violence survivors, mentioned marriage mustn’t protect a criminal offense.

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“How can marriage change the definition of rape?” she mentioned.

“Getting married does not take away the rights over your body.”

Arranged marriages

“Most of the survivors do not really have this understanding that it is not okay, and it is marital rape,” Tiwary added.

“The moment we label it and attach a law to it, people start recognising it, awareness increases”, Tiway added.

Divya’s marriage was organized, like many in India.

But her household didn’t pay the standard hefty money dowry to the husband — one thing he used in opposition to her.

“He would taunt me by saying ‘It’s not like your parents gave any dowry, I can at least do this’,” Divya mentioned.

“At times he would put a knife on my throat and dare me to say no. (He would say) ‘You are my wife, I have full rights on you’.”

Swati Sharma, a 24-year-old mom of two, mentioned she married a person for love.

The first time her husband assaulted her was after their first daughter was born.

“I used to think: ‘Okay, we are married, so we can do this’,” she mentioned.

Death threats

 

When he was indignant, he would take it out on her. If she refused intercourse, he accused her of getting an affair.

The tipping level got here when he stripped her bare in entrance of their kids, ready till they slept.

“Then he proceeded to have sex with me,” she mentioned. “He didn’t leave me till he had his way.”

She packed her baggage, took her kids and left.

But regardless of the abuse, some girls return to violent husbands fearing for his or her kids, and underneath intense social stress.

Sharma additionally returned to her husband, after he went to counselling and persuaded her to return again.

While Divya escaped, she nonetheless lives in concern.

Her husband messaged her mom threatening that he “will not let her live”.

But she says she is “proud” that she left.

“There are many girls who still endure this, happening to them day and night,” she mentioned.

“Such men should be punished.”

AFP

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