Marital Rape in India


Marital rape is unfortunately considered separate from other forms of rape. Since a woman is considered her husband’s property, it is impossible for the husband to do anything wrong with “his” property. Although, modern society has moved towards providing autonomy to women, there is still work to be done in removing the influence of those laws.

There was a colonial law that came form Victorian, patriarchal moral structures that allowed the same law to persist in England until 1991. Unfortunately, the law hasn’t been removed in India.


Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code doesn’t consider non-consensual sex against one’s wife rape, and is thus not covered by the same legal parameters as other types of rape. While the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act of  2005 provides civil avenue for women pursue, it is still not considered a criminal act.

Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape. (Criminal Law Act, 2013)

This is largely problematic as it doesn’t provide women with the necessary methods of protection from their rapists.

The only exception in the penal code is for partners who are separated, and Section 376(A) provides steps to deal with the marital rape.

Sex is understood to be an act with the purpose of reproducing rather than an act for pleasure, and thus it becomes a wife’s duty to have sex with her husband. This stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of consent and women’s rights to their own bodies.

Those who protest the criminalizing of martial rape argue that it would hurt the family institution to to do so. The exact report stated:

It was, therefore, felt that if marital rape is brought under the law, the entire family system will be under great stress and the Committee may perhaps be doing more injustice. (Page 46)


Screenshot at Feb 03 20-13-52
From The Hindu

Spousal rape is thought to be 40 times greater than sexual violence from others. However, the reporting of this crime is clearly a problem, as it isn’t even considered a crime by legal standards.

Possible Solutions

The only solution is to criminalize rape against one’s spouse and change Indian Penal Code Section 375. CNN quotes Supreme Court lawyer Karuna Nundy saying, “I think if there’s enough pressure on the government and the political entities that support it, and if they realize that there’s too much of a political cost, whether it’s in terms of women’s and men’s votes, or a just court order.”

There should be no debate over whether this is right or wrong, as this is clearly a violation of a women’s body and person and modern Indian society should be far from tolerating it.

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