India marital rape laws ‘may hurt marriages’
There can be no lasting evidence in cases of sexual acts between a man and his own wife, court told
New Delhi: India’s central government on Tuesday told the Delhi High Court that criminalising marital rape may destabilise the institution of marriage apart from being an easy tool for harassing husbands.
In an affidavit filed by the Centre, it said there can be no lasting evidence in cases of sexual acts between a man and his own wife.
The affidavit filed by the Centre before a division bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar, said: “It has to be ensured adequately that marital rape does not become a phenomenon which may destabilise the institution of marriage apart from being an easy tool for harassing the husbands.”
“If all sexual acts by a man with his own wife will qualify to be marital rape, then the judgement as to whether it is marital rape or not will singularly rest with the wife. The question is what evidence the courts will rely upon in such circumstances as there can be no lasting evidence in case of sexual acts between a man and his own wife,” it added.
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The Centre said marital rape is not defined in any statute/law, while rape is defined under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, defining marital rape would call for a broad-based consensus of the society.
“What may appear to be marital rape to an individual wife, may not appear so to others. As to what constitutes marital rape and what would constitute marital non-rape needs to be defined precisely before a view in its criminalisation is taken,” the affidavit stated.
The fact that other countries, mostly Western, have criminalised marital rape does not necessarily mean India should also follow them blindly, the Centre said.
The government added that it cannot criminalise marital rape because India has its own unique problems due to illiteracy, lack of financial empowerment of majority of females, mindset of the society, vast diversity in the cultures of states which implement criminal law, and poverty etc.
The Centre has also said that it is necessary to implead the state governments in the matter to know the opinion of these states to avoid any complications at a later stage.