There is no such thing as marital rape
The concept of ‘marital rape’ is one that may not be present in the lexicon of the average Indian, but it is a concept that has made life a living hell for many of them. The staunch male chauvinists of this country, who masquerade as spokespersons for the Indian society at large, may very well disregard the existence of such a thing, but I beg to disagree. Yes, marital rape does exist. It pains me to say it, and it pains me furthermore to see that people are not ready to hear it, let alone acknowledge it.
There are two parts to the phrase ‘marital rape’. Firstly, the notion of ‘marriage’ clearly refers to the communion of two people who willingly spend their lives with each other and voluntarily engage in the activities that such a communion of two opposite sexes entails. Secondly, ‘rape’ refers to the brutal crime of forcing a person to engage in coitus. It is understood that two people who are married and live together will, at some point , share the conjugal bliss that comes with being a couple. The problem arises when the element of will is taken away, and it is seen more as a necessary duty that one must perform for the other. The oppressor, (usually the male) feels that he has a right to make his spouse partake in sex, regardless of what she feels about it.
Logically speaking, the moment the element of ‘force’ comes into picture, the act of sex enters the murky waters of the act of rape. But despite this fact, there is a large section of society that refuses to accept that any act of marital sex can indeed be accorded the fiendishness of ‘rape’. After all, the perpetrators of rape are veritable monsters. It would be unthinkable to accuse one’s husband of being one of them. After all, he is your ‘pati parmeshwar’. Indisputable. Above all doubts and accusations. That is what our ‘culture’ proclaims. And it is of course understood that the wife would partake in sexual intercourse whenever she is asked to. It is not within her liberty to argue against it. Why! Isn’t the very notion of arguing a sacrilege against the bonds of holy matrimony? At least that’s what all the supposed upholders of ‘Indian culture and civilization’ would say.
We need to understand that both partners in a marriage are equals, and one does not have a right to subjugate another against their will. She is your partner, not your slave. She is a woman, not an instrument. She is a human being, and my dear male chauvinistic pig, you should learn to be one too.
Marital rape is indeed prevalent in our society, and its existence is a sign of the heavily misconstrued concepts of cultural and gender rights that plague our society. But what is more alarming is our tendency to sweep it under the carpet and to look away from the not-so-comfortable questions. This is indicative of an even greater malaise that plagues our society. Call it hypocrisy or chauvinism or dogma; whatever it may be, it is time we got rid of it.
Yes! There is such a thing as marital rape, and it is an abomination. It is time we acknowledged this fact and freed all its sufferers from the clutches of the sordid existence they lead in their unfair marriages.
Second Year IPM Student