The Supreme Court has refused to include conjugal rape under the umbrella off criminal offenses. The statement was made when a Delhi-based MNC executive, told the court that her husband repeatedly resorted to sexual violence, but she was helpless as marital rape was not a crime in India. “You are espousing a personal cause and not a public cause…This is an individual case”, a bench of justice AR Dave and justice R Banumathi said, refusing to take up her plea.
When the woman questioned the validity of an exception to Section 375 of the IPC, that says, sexual intercourse by a man with his wife, who is 15 or above, is not rape even if it is without consent. The woman said the provision violates her right to life and right to liberty. Colin Gonzalves, a senior advocate who represented the woman chose to withdraw the case as the bench was not inclined to entertain the petition.”We would move the court again on the issue….may be through a women’s organisation”, he said.
The law commission in its report to the government in March 2000, recommended that forced sexual intercourse by a husband be treated as an offense just like any physical violence, by a man against his wife. It was justice Verma committee that reviewed the rape laws after the December 16 2012 gang rape, of a paramedical student in Delhi, who gave similar suggestions. However, the government chose not to change the law regarding rape for any individual case.
According to the UN Women’s 2011 report, marital rape is a criminal offense in about 52 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France and neighbouring Bhutan. The report said, 127 countries did not explicitly criminalize rape within marriage. The petitioner alleged that she was subjected to dowry harassment, along with brutal sexual crimes like pushing a torchlight into her body.
A federal minister in charge of the ministry for Home Affairs, had said in April, that, criminalizing conjugal rape will put the entire family system under great stress.
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