A regressive attitude


Open Letter to the government of India on criminalising marital rape

Dear Govt. of India
The government's refusal to accept marital rape as an offence, on the specious basis that marriage is sacred in India, is totally unacceptable. There is an inherent contradiction in the stance of the government. There is marital rape in India and rape is one of the worst forms of criminal violence against women.

If there is marital rape, how can marriage be sacred? Is marriage—a sacred social institution—a license to commit rape? Worse still, how can marital rape be justified by saying marriage is sacred? The reality of marital rape deprives marriage of its sacredness. So, it is clear that the argument based on the so-called sacredness of marriage is specious. The real reason for the government's unjustifiable stand is vote-bank politics. Let us call a spade a spade. The ruling dispensation doesn't want to displease the patriarchal and obscurantist forces which constitute a large vote-bank.

Studies show that about 14% of married women in India are raped by their husbands. The victims continue to suffer in silence because they have no legal protection against it. The perpetrators of the crime feel emboldened because there is no deterrent punishment. The fact that most Indian wives are homemakers with no economic independence makes their plight really pathetic. Consequently, they are forced to continue to live with the rapist-husband. There can be nothing more demeaning and humiliating than this. They remain emotionally scarred throughout their life. It is a pity that our lawmakers refuse to recognise the enormity of the injustice involved in this situation.

The government's stance on the issue is regressive. It reflects not only the patriarchal attitude of our lawmakers but also their readiness to please the patriarchal and obscurantist forces in the society which constitute a huge vote-bank. The government should realise that India is the only modern democracy where marital rape is not recognised as an offence. It places India among such regressive nations as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia. It flies in the face of the often repeated vision of the government to make India a modern nation.

Yours sincerely,
Kurian Mathew, Kochi

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Topics : #Open Letter | #rape | #crime

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