First of all understand what marital rape basically is. Well, marital rape is non-consensual sex with your legal partner. The Indian Penal Code does not identify it as a crime. It is a non-prosecutable offence in India. In India, marital rape usually happens in arranged marriages. There are many causes, with difference in sex drives as well.
Being married doesn’t change the social rules. Just because a woman said “I do to marriage”, doesn’t mean that she has said “I do to sex”, also whenever, wherever, and however her husband wants it. Married sex became like all intimate, while loving sex is consensual. It is a way that two people who love each other express love and caring and communicate tenderness.
Let’s be clear: Being married doesn’t make any of the forceful rape situations okay. Wives do not belong to their husbands. Sex is not a “right” that goes with marriage. It is not a wife’s responsibility. A woman does not give up her right to say ‘YES’ or ‘NO’ the day she gets married. Sex should be based on respect, equality, consent, caring, and clear communication. It must be something which should be consensual i.e. both of them should be equally interested and involved. No woman wants to feel like she’s living with a rapist.
Here’s one case of a girl’s first night with her husband, telling her own story,
Last night was my first night. You know I was already very nervous. I have a bare minimum knowledge of sex. But my husband seemed a sweet person. As soon as he entered the room, he was reeking of alcohol. But he was in control. We talked for a while and then he started caressing me all over. I told him that let’s get acquainted with each other but he got furious. He charged at me. He forced himself on me. I was pleading. But no respite. He was rough, maniacal, animal like, scratching, biting. The pain was surmounting like anything. It was my first time. I bled profusely. When he was done, he went and slept.
I knew what rape feels like. My privates were paining. I couldn’t walk properly. Next morning, I woke up to him shrugging me. It was 4 in the morning, and then the entire thing continued all over again.
I felt like an object. My dignity was outraged. Who should have I complained to? He was my husband. Legally he was doing the right thing. I had no proof of what I was going through. It wasn’t domestic violence neither was it dowry thing. I was so helpless.
When I woke up again, my relatives were passing evil smirks on my staggered walk, making absurd comments like how was the night. When I told my mother, she said “You’ll get used to it.”
Now you people decide and tell isn’t it right to not criminalize marital rape? Isn’t it the worst form of abuse for a woman? The relationship where you should have been feeling the safest became the one where you are violated day and night.
Now, if you will talk to gender rights activists, field workers, lawyers, counsellors, and women across India, it becomes abundantly clear that sexual abuse in marriages (of which the penetrative act of marital rape is just one part) is so vast that it occurs across regions, classes and communities. Violence can include excessive sexual demands, making your wife perform sex acts despite her protests, forcing her to watch and re-enact porn, or verbally humiliating her during sex. But rape in India is accompanied by a culture of shame and silence, enforced and internalized by victims. Women, particularly married women, are conditioned to not talk about their abuse specially when done by their husband itself.
Unlike with most stranger rapes, the sexual violence in a marriage is meted out systematically over time, until behavior that would be criminal outside marriage becomes acceptable. Violence that should be a shock, becomes normal. Imagine such a life in which unrelenting fear is normal, in which you are forever uncertain what might trigger your husband’s wrath, in which saying no to sex is unthinkable.
Often, anger, disappointments and the emotional hurts are the result of forced marital sex, which are so intense that it takes some specialized treatment to heal the relationship. But if the husband refuses to take responsibility for inflicting emotional and physical pain and even feels justified in his actions, it may be that the only way for the wife to stop it is to leave. It may be frightening for the wife to cut loose, especially if she is financially and emotionally dependent on her husband. But sometimes it’s the only way to save herself.
Now say, our government’s unwillingness to criminalize marital rape should force us to ask questions about what marriage means in our society. What are these traditional family values that the Parliamentary Standing Committee is so afraid? Will the rules get weaken were husbands who rape their wives sent to prison? Is the state really so intent on preserving an outmoded, irrelevant male dominance? And if the Indian marriage is so resistant to change, so indifferent to female sexuality, so ungenerous and inequitable, is it worth saving? If traditional values mean men continue to have it all their own way, expect those values to soon be discarded on the dust heap of an unbecoming history.
And now to each and every women, speak out against your problems and if not your family then go to some NGO or Women Welfare Organization, they will definitely listen to you. Accepting the traumatic situation of your life is not the solution.
“Stand up and speak out so loud that all are forced to listen to you.”