What is Marital Rape?

Rape is sexual assault involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person's will and without the said person's verbal consent.

When we talk about rape and sexual assault, any person will refer to such incidents of violation as heinous. However, there is one kind of rape that is still not illegal and criminalized in India, which is marital rape.

In our society, people still tend to think that marriages are a way to access the permanent consent of the woman. A wife’s duties to her husband include fulfilling his pleasures, so her consent is applicable 24/7.

Marital Rape in India

There is no marital rape law in India. Not criminalizing marital rape in India is a message to the entire community of women that their consent to any sexual activity with their husbands is nil. It tells them that after they get married, their bodies become their husbands’ property and their own autonomy over their bodies ceases to exist.

Section 375, the provision of rape in the Indian Penal Code, mentions: “Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape.”

However, if the woman is above the age of 15 and married, then the incident cannot be termed rape. So, this provision not just discriminates between a married woman and an unmarried one, but also says that the consent of a married woman under the age of 15 is more valuable than someone who is above 15.

Why are we allowing a marriage to be a license to rape? How can marriage negate the autonomy of a woman over her body? How can we give more importance to a societal institution that the woman’s choice herself?

It is high time we start thinking about these issues and raising our voices against them. A “No” is a “No”, and silence is a “No”.

Dealing With Marital Rape 

It is difficult to accept the fact that your spouse is capable of rape. This adds to the intense emotions you might already be facing due to the sexual assault.

While it is not uncommon to wonder why it happened; one fact remains: that rape is never your fault. There is nothing you did that justifies spousal rape or sexual assault. It is all on the perpetrator.

Martial rape can change how you view sex, love and relationships and is a form of trauma. One might experience:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Feelings of Self-harm

Being violated by someone will lead to confusing thoughts and feelings of self-harm. Your feelings are valid. You deserve a safe space to process your experience and get support.