There is a lot of buzz going on lately on why marital rape is evil and should be recognised on par with rape. But is there any merit to such a statement?
Why Marital rape is an oxymoron?
What is marriage? Marriage is the union of man and a woman in a society such that both pledge exclusivity of sexual relations to each other so that they can raise their kids in a stable environment. The exclusivity of sexual relationship is the reason why the society views adultery as a crime and makes it punishable as a criminal offence, since it involves breaking of the exclusivity pledged in the marriage. So, marriage by virtue of the exclusivity of sex it pledges to the marital partners, is implied consent for sex, since if such implied consent is not there, there is no meaning to the exclusivity of sexual relationship between husband and wife, as either one can deny sex to the other without any valid reason and deprive the other of a basic human need. So the very term martial rape is an oxymoron. Both cannot go hand in hand.
Legal implications of recognising marital rape
Marital rape law would be ripe for abuse just like the dowry law has been misused umpteen times without any significant reduction in demand for dowry. The current medical technologies cannot distinguish a rape and a rough sexual act reliably. Medical examination can only show that rough sex had taken place. So it is legally difficult to prove rape against rough sexual act. And in such cases, conviction of the accused (in this case husband) will depend only on the accounts of husband and wife on what happened. In such a case, any sexual act can be used by the wife to get revenge on husband by falsely accusing him of rape, which could not be proven/dis-proven in court. So when evidence would be iffy at pinpointing rape or rough sex, there is high chance for the law to convict an innocent husband. While this is the problem now, if feminists and other women’s rights activists successfully manage to change the present innocent until proven otherwise law to guilty until proven otherwise , it will become a legal nightmare for India, with the husband needing to use a consent App or file written consent for every time the couple have sex, or risk losing his life over a false complaint. While such false complaints do exist now (to the tune of 53%) , it won’t be as bad as the proposed law because unlike other cases of rape where the innocent man can prove his innocence by using medical test, no such possibility is there for an accused of marital rape. In a country where 90% of the dowry cases are false and are used only for revenge and send families to ruin, its not really that hard to imagine the ruin this law will have on husband and his family. And the usual argument made for recognising such a law is that women should be protect no matter how many men get destroyed in the process. It is a bit ironic and hypocritical that the ones who claim to be for equality of genders have no problem saying that hundred innocent men can have their lives ruined so that a single woman can be saved from rape.
Societal implications of recognising marital rape
This is another issue which is often overlooked by the women’s rights campaigners and the feminists who are pushing for recognising marital rape- the effect of such a law on family and society.
So what these people want us to believe is that recognising marital rape on par with other rapes is actually good for women and society as a whole. But is it really so? If martial rape is recognised, every husband has to be weary of being accused of rape by their wives and have to have a written evidence of consent for sex. Not only will it reduce the bonding strength in the marriage, it will also make sure that neither of the couple will have enough trust which is needed for a marriage to work. So when such a law is recognised, it would result in marital bond becoming fast and lose and we will end up like the western societies with 50% divorce rates and 50% fatherless children. Is it what our society should be aiming to achieve? A society of lonely kids and single mothers like in the west? And what exactly are the feminists hoping to achieve by this law, which is not possible under current laws? Do you think that if a wife accuses her husband for rape and send him to prison for seven years, will he come back and live with her again? Seriously, which wife is going to accuse husband of rape if she really wanted to live with him? Also, if there is such a complaint it will lead to dissolution of marriage. So this law will only be useful for women getting divorce and then beat their husbands with another false complaint and extract revenge.
How effective will recognising marital rape be?
As per current law, forced sex with spouse is a ground for divorce and so is withholding of sex. So a wife, who does not want to have sex with her husband any more can file for divorce and after court mandated separation cannot be forced into sex by her husband as such an act would be considered rape in current law. So this law is not for the wives who want to live with their husbands . This law can only help wives who are not going to live with their husbands i.e. future divorcees. So this is a law for nobody as we already have divorce laws to achieve these goals.
So what exactly is marital rape law recognition going to do for the society? The benefits of such a law will be negligible compared to the massive downsides of such a law in the society. Finally, almost everyone who is in this debate think that these laws are an issue of men vs women along the lines of Marxist class warfare. This is a hugely flawed reasoning. Men and women are not separate classes. Any law which punishes men for no reason will end up punishing women too. Today’s women who are pushing for marital rape to be recognised will not only bear sons or grandsons, but are also related to their fathers and brothers. Be careful what you wish for is a very apt description of this problem. The way current dowry laws punish not only innocent men but also an equal number of innocent women, a similar marital rape law would also be open for abuse. Under current laws, when a couple runs away from their families who are against their marriage, rape is the first charge brought against the boy by the girl under pressure from her family. Now imagine the hardships of this couple under marital rape law when the boy would not only be slapped with forced marriage but also forced rape by the girl’s family.
So it is not good enough to claim a false moral high ground and study everything from a class warfare perspective while ignoring the residual ill-effects on the society. Also, such laws will hurt the sanctity of the marriage as seen in Dharmic traditions and force men to completely opt-out of marriage as an institution. We would then have to contend with our daughters and grand daughters being single moms and lonely crazy cat ladies as in the west. We should try to preserve our superior social and cultural fabric instead of blindly aping the broken marriages model of the west which has only led to misery and crime infested cesspool that is western society today.