Newspapers in the past couple of days have been focusing on the sanctity of the institution of marriage mainly pertaining to the increase in the incidents of marital rape. However, these incidents come in the form of the survey results by the National Family Health Survey conducted back in 2005-06 than in the actual number of complaints filed with the Police department.
The Indian Penal Code defines rape and consent as “Sexual Intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years, is not Rape.” However, the statistics by NFHS reveal that over 1 in 12 women fall victims to this phenomenon and a majority of them feel that it wasn’t a crime and that this was legal for their life partners to beat or force them. Thus, making Marital Rape legal in the world’s largest democracy, depriving about half of the population a Life of dignity as warranted by the Article 21 of the honorable Constitution Of India.
However, I differ for each wedding comes with a set of vows irrespective of the faith that the couple may follow. And these vows award sanctity to this institution. However, it vouches for equal rights for both the partners and clearly doesn’t warrant for domination over the fairer sex. It is clearly a war of not the laws or the absence of it but the prevalence of a mindset which treats women as a liability.
Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, the pioneer of the Indian Constitution famously remarked at a rally in 1943 that Rights are protected not by law but by social and moral conscience of the society. He added that if a community were to oppose Fundamental Rights, no Law, Parliament or Judiciary could award the same. His words clearly point out the mistake that is being committed.
It is time to change the mindsets, to understand that the fairer sex is equal if not more in every respect and that the institution of marriage should be maintained sacredly. Had women been weak, they wouldn’t have left all the familiarities behind to become a part of someone’s life. Had they been liable, they won’t have manged the workplace and homes simultaneously.
It is only when initiative to change mindset at individual levels are taken that the people and NGO’s can demand for criminalizing Marital Rape. It is a battle of the mindsets and it is high time the obsolete one is made obscure.