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Split verdict disappointing; marriage not substitute to woman’s consent: petitioner AIDWA


The All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), which grew to become a petitioner within the case in 2017, on Wednesday known as the Delhi High Court’s cut up verdict in pleas to criminalise marital rape as “disappointing”.

The divided judgment, AIDWA president Subhashini Ali mentioned, “is a great pity”.

CPI(M) chief and AIDWA patron Brinda Karat mentioned, “It is disappointing that in 2022, we can still have a judicial opinion which holds that a marriage licence can be equated to sex without consent, whereas sex without consent is rape — plain and simple. A marriage licence cannot be a substitute for a woman’s consent.”

Lead Specialist, Gender Justice, at Oxfam India, Amita Pitre, mentioned: “The principle of equality and non-discrimination is important, and it is enshrined in our Constitution. The marital exception clause reduces the woman to a second-class citizen within the marriage and means that she is not equal before law.”

Ali mentioned, “The method through which marriages have been posed is that it’s a lofty establishment. But how can rape inside such a lofty establishment be acceptable? How can rape happening be excused? This is a contradictory stand.

“Whenever the issue of criminalising marital rape comes up, there is always an excuse of false cases and misuse of the law. But from our experience, only in cases of extreme suffering do women speak up. That marital rape takes place is accepted all over the world now. In India, we know it definitely takes place. Going on denying it is unfair.”

Pointing out that “rape is rape, whether you are single or married’’, Karat said, “The Indian government has had a repressive understanding of marriage — by which understanding a woman within the institution of marriage is a subordinate. They have accepted all kinds of forms of violence in the name of sanskar (culture). This government has been aggressive in promoting a culture that says what happens in home or inside the bedroom is a private matter, and not a matter of law.”

Karat mentioned, “To have an exception like this, despite the Verma Commission recommendations, which came in 2012, is problematic. If the Verma Commission recommendations had been implemented, we would not have had to approach the courts to begin with.”

Pitre mentioned, “The argument against criminalisation is based on the outdated suppositions that a woman is a man’s property; (that) the institution of marriage is sacrosanct in society, needs to be upheld at all costs and that all procreative sex within marriage, therefore, is legitimate. Consent of the woman is not required. Adultery was based on the same concept — that the woman is a man’s property — and it had to go. This will have to go as well.”

The not too long ago launched NFHS-5 report has discovered that one-third of ladies in India have skilled bodily or sexual violence. While home violence in opposition to girls has declined marginally within the nation — from 31.2% reported in NFHS-4 to 29.3% — 30% girls between the ages 18 and 49 years have skilled bodily violence for the reason that age of 15 years, and 6% have skilled sexual violence of their lifetime, the Survey stories.

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“This is, of course, severe under-reporting, because women do not come out and complain, or seek help,” Pitre mentioned. “But even amongst 6% girls who’ve admitted to sexual assault, over 80% girls have mentioned the perpetrator is their husband. So marital sexual violence does exist.

“During the pandemic, we carried out a ground assessment — over telephone — and found that women complaining of coercive sex had increased in this period.”





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