Xiaoxin Melody Xing

Of the 185 countries in the world, 77 have laws that explicitly criminalize marital rape, while 34 countries either explicitly legalize marital rape or essentially provide immunity for men who rape their wives. Yet India is one of 34 countries that have legalized marital rape (Marital Rape in India, n.d.). Notwithstanding Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC): Defines what constitutes male rape. However, the provision also provides for two exceptions. In addition to decriminalizing marital rape, it also mentions that medical procedures or interventions should not constitute rape. Exception 2 to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code states that “a man who has sexual intercourse with his wife does not constitute rape if the wife is under the age of 15,” and in October 2017 the Supreme Court of India raised the age to 18 (Marital Rape in India, n.d.).

In many countries, “rapes often go unreported, and when they are reported, they are rarely prosecuted,” she said. “Even when prosecutions are brought, they are rarely addressed in a gender-sensitive manner and often lead to re-victimization with few convictions. The result is the normalization of rape, rape culture or silence about rape, stigmatization of victims and The perpetrators are getting away with it (OHCHR, n.d.).”  In India, sexual violence crimes have surpassed the legal level in many ways and become an extremely complex social and cultural phenomenon. Many victims are reluctant to come forward to accuse the offender or report the crime after being assaulted, because they are more worried that they will suffer more severe retaliation if they report the crime. And sometimes although cases are sent to court, most cases will not be convicted because India’s own judicial system does not protect women.

A recent United Nations report showed that 25% of married women aged 18-49 who experienced spousal physical or sexual violence reported physical harm, with 7% reporting eye injuries, sprains, dislocations, or Burns, 6% had deep cuts, broken bones, broken teeth or any other serious injury.

In cases of marital rape, India continues to abide by ancient colonial laws whereby unwanted sexual contact between a husband and wife is not considered a criminal offence (Desk, 2022). 

In 2017, Union MoS for Home Affairs Krishna Raj stated, citing a 2013 parliamentary panel on the issue:

“If marital rape is punished by law, the entire family system will be under enormous pressure.” By repeatedly vehemently refusing to criminalize marital rape, legislators implicitly reiterate that it is the wife’s responsibility to have sex with her husband, and that the institution of marriage Basically giving up women’s right to consent (Sachdev & Sachdev, 2022). 

In India, many men in marriage believe that they have the right to exercise their power as men, and Indian culture also provides many mainstream justifications for male sex, which makes many victims not only exist as humiliated, but also let them Became the one who did the wrong thing. Because in Indian culture, the personality subject is a man. Women exist only as a precious object, and they have no right to say no. The value of a woman is only sex. As long as you are a woman, no matter whether you say no or not, you have no right to decide yourself. The objectification of women has been exacerbated in many rural areas, with many confined to the home as a sort of baby-making machine. Most forms of conquest of women are manifested in extreme ways such as sexual violence.

With the advancement of society, the development of science and technology, and the promotion of human rights, modern wives should no longer be submissive sex slaves under their husbands, but equal sex partners. As for India, one of the largest economies in the world, if it wants to develop faster and better, it should respect women’s rights instead of trampling on women’s dignity. India urgently needs a clear law on marital/marital rape that is consistent with accepted international norms on the issue.

Marital rape is a concept that makes wives miserable. The horror of having to face it and still having to live with it in silence is an unbearable thought that affects the female psyche. This self-imposed silence has a very detrimental effect on a woman’s emotional, psychological and mental stability. However, this silence is not entirely self-enforced. The lack of law and social stigma of marital rape is one of the main reasons why the sin of marital rape still hides behind the sanctity of marriage. In light of this, the idea that a woman (wife) must have sex with her husband regardless of her will, consent, health, etc. is absolutely unacceptable in a civilized society. Therefore, the concept of marriage immunity has no reason or applicability in this day and age. Admittedly, simply criminalizing marital rape in India is not going to solve the problem, regardless of the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator, it is recognized by law and strictly enforced (Rape: Is Marriage a Sanction to Rape, n.d.). 


Desk, O. W. (2022, September 29). Supreme Court’s Judgment On Marital Rape: What Has Been The  Discussion So Far. Https://Www.Outlookindia.Com/. https://www.outlookindia.com/national/supreme-court-s-judgment-on-marital-rape-what-has-been-the-discussion-so-far-news-226703

Marital Rape in India. (n.d.). Drishti IAS. Retrieved April 12, 2023, from https://www.drishtiias.com/daily-updates/daily-news-analysis/marital-rape-in-india-1

OHCHR. (n.d.). International Day on the Elimination of Violence against Women25 November 2019. Retrieved April 12, 2023, from https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2019/11/international-day-elimination-violence-against-women25-november-2019

Rape: Is Marriage a Sanction to Rape. (n.d.). https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-2442-rape-is-marriage-a-sanction-to-rape.html

Sachdev, V., & Sachdev, V. (2022, May 11). Explained: Why Marital Rape Is Not a Crime in India (Yet). TheQuint. https://www.thequint.com/news/law/marital-rape-not-recognised-as-crime-in-india-explainer#read-more

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