Criminalization of Marital Rape in India

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Criminalization of Marital Rape in India: An Unfulfilled Dream 

“He was planning to rape me -“
“Why would he ever -“
“Because he knew he’d get away with it.”

-Courtney Summers


Violence is at its most exceedingly awful indication when happens inside the family – a unit which is probably the most secure and the most ensured zone in human life. The effect and results of family brutality are most overpowering when such the culprit of such brutality is the spouse – the man who is assumed to be the defender and supplier of the lady. Sadly, the sexual viciousness is delivered by the spouses for the sake of irreversibility of agree to marital dwelling together. The general public and the governing body don’t perceive such sexual savagery by the spouses, which truly encroaches upon the status of ladies in the general public and keeps up the norm of the ladies’ oppressed situation in the family just as the general public. A woman in her everyday life faces a ton of issues. In India when two individuals are hitched to one another it is essentially inferred that both have given their approval for sex. Conjugal assault is otherwise called companion assault in which an individual is compelled to have sexual relationship with his life partner without her consent.

Introduction on Marital Rape

According to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code rape is: “sexual intercourse with a woman against her will, without her consent, by coercion, misrepresentation or fraud or at a time when she has been intoxicated or duped, or is of unsound mental health and in any case if she is under 18 years of age.”

The demonstration of dwelling together against the desire of spouse is a grievous offense, and can’t be supported in light of the fact that the husband has been raised in a general public with marriage as it were, gives men a ‘permit to assault’ with their wives. Marriage ought not be viewed as a license for unconsented sex everybody has a privilege on their body more than any other individual.

Consequences of Marital Rape

Assault in marriage is incomprehensibly unrecognized by the legitimate frameworks all over the world. This lawful hesitance is the result of the social thought that the wives are the properties of their spouses. To be more exact, survey of spouse as the sexual property of the spouse is the unavoidable legacy of the male centric (Patriarchal) society. Aside from this, there are financial basic game plans of the general public with the man as the bread-worker of the family, consequently, having monstrous monetary command over the family and the lady as the reliant on the bread-worker, having no autonomous pay, the person who is, hence, left.

The Statutory Development Under Rape Law Since 18th Century

Among the most dreadful cases of marital rape, the most important case is the case of Phulmoni Devi, popularly known as Queen-Empress vs. Hari Mohan Maiti[1]. This specific case is needed to be exceptionally referenced as it pulled in a lot of concern among lawmakers and the general public also. The truths were that Phulmoni Devi, an eleven-year-old kid lady of the hour, died because of extreme bleeding when her spouse, Hari Mohan, who was in his mid-thirties, attempted rape by having forceful sex regardless of his significant other being eleven years old.

The autopsy report also mentioned that Phulmoni Devi died because of burst vagina. Even in spite of the medical report the husband was not convicted with rape charges as at that time marital rape was not taken into consideration and he was condemned for ‘causing severe injury by doing a reckless and inattentive act risky to the life of the child bride’. In 1891, Sir Andrew Scoble presented the Bill, which established into Indian Criminal Law (Amendment) Act’ 1891.

This act raised the age of agreement to 12 years both in cases of matrimonial and extra-marital rapes. The object of Act was public-spirited, it was made “to protect female children from juvenile prostitution and from pre-mature cohabitation”.

Pre-developed living together brought about colossal anguish and now and again even passing to the young lady and by and large brought about injury to her wellbeing and that of her descendants. In 1924, Hari Singh Gour acquainted a Bill with amendment in Article 375, IPC, raising the age to 14 years ,a long time in both conjugal and extra-conjugal cases. The Bill was referred to a Select Committee, which made a material modification by decreasing the age from 14 to 13 years on account of conjugal rape. On 1st September, 1925 Sir Alexender Muddiman presented the Bill fixing 14years the age in extra-marital cases and 13 years in conjugal cases, which finished into Amendment Act, 1925.

The change in 1925 unexpectedly presented a differentiation among conjugal and extra-conjugal assault cases by giving diverse period of assent in conjugal assault cases. The qualification was further accentuated in article 376 by joining the words – “except if the woman assaulted is his own significant other and isn’t under twelve years old“.

In which case the discipline was weakened by recommending a limit of two years. Accordingly, the reason intended to be accomplished by raising the time of agree to 13 a long time, stood moderated to a huge degree by the weakened discipline gave by altered area 376.

Present Legal Scenario of Marital Rape in India

One of the provisions, sixthly of Section 375 gives that sex by a man with a young lady under 18 years old is assault, either with or without her assent.  However, in a similar area, it is given that (according to Exception appended to Section 375), sex by the spouse with his own better half and wife not being under 15 years old isn’t considered as assault. Accordingly, if a young lady is hitched and her better half submits strong sexual follow up on her it isn’t assault regardless of whether she is under 18 years old yet not underneath 15. The following fundamental right is violated :

  • Article 14 of the Indian Constitution represents “equality before the law”. Article 14 foresees the state to segregate between the resident on any ground, however as with respect to condemning conjugal assault, the state has oppressed ladies.
  • Article 21 of the Indian Constitution states ‘Right to life and individual freedom’. Article 21 gives the option to live with individual freedom and respect. At the point when a lady is compelled to include sex inside a marriage by her better half, her entitlement to freedom and pride gets sketchy. Exemption gave in Section 375 of the IPC disregards the rights under Article 21 given to all female.
  • Article 51A (e) of the Indian Constitution talks about the Fundamental Duties of the resident to repudiate the defamatory practices against ladies which harms a lady’s nobility. Conjugal assault being a disparaging offense harms the respect of the lady. Under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, women can go to the court and get a legitimate division from her husband in the event of conjugal assault since Explanation – I accommodated Section 3 of this Act expresses that rape will incorporate any direct of sexual nature which belittle, humiliates or influences the respect of lady.
  • Criminalization of marital rape is still a dream in India, Sexual liberation for example option to draw in oneself in a physical relationship with another is an essential basic freedom and furthermore goes under right to security, which is a basic right. Along these lines there will be some discipline when one’s privilege has been disregarded. Non-criminalization of marital assault prompts infringement of Article 14 (right to equity) and Article 21 (right to life) of the Indian Constitution. It likewise penetrates Article 19(1)(a) (right to the right to speak freely of discourse and articulation) and Article 15 (option to no separation on the ground of sex) of the Constitution of India. On the off chance that conjugal attack is an assault behind the entryways under the name of marriage, there must be a few laws identifying, which may defend the privileges of a woman as well as to secure the sacredness of marriage.

The main cure the exploited ladies are left with is Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code which discusses mercilessness on a woman by spouse and relative and Section 354 managing lusty behavior. In more terrible cases, she can settle on Domestic Violence Legislations. A woman has consistently been treated as an underestimated class; anyway late advancements have demonstrated that there is an extent of their upliftment.

One of the most fascinating perspectives on spousal attack has as of late been made by Justice J.B. Pardiwala, who while tuning in to the instance of Nimeshbhai Bharatbhai Desai v. Territory of Gujarat indicated articulate disappointment to the restrictions of the correctional law. He was of the view that the complete legal abrogation of the marital rape is the main vital advance in instructing social orders that dehumanized treatment of ladies won’t go on without serious consequences and that the conjugal assault is certainly not a spouse’s benefit, but instead a rough demonstration and a bad form that must be condemned. He supported for equivalent rights to ladies independent of their conjugal status and saw that the best way to eliminate the damaging perspectives that elevate conjugal assault is to condemn it.


Lord Krishna said in Bhagavad Gita, “Where women are not protected and treasured, progress is sure to doom.”

Law assumes that in a marriage, the spouse has agreed to give a wide range of wedding commitments to her significant other including sex which she can’t withdraw later on. On account of Petitions recorded under the steady gaze of the Delhi High Court looking for criminalization of conjugal assault, one of the three applicants, a person who herself was a casualty of conjugal assault, said that she was prompted by her own relatives to disregard the way that her significant other assaulted her and not to criticize it; also she was compromised by her own sibling of being isolated from her family in the event that she leaves the marriage. Notwithstanding, she did and the family cut off all binds with her. 

Subsequently the need of great importance is to condemn this detestable present in the society. Therefore it is essential that the law making body of our nation and furthermore the law commission of India must wake up to the new and changing realty of present occasions and give truly necessary legitimate security to hapless wedded ladies who endure quietly in their homes y sort of approval for his criminal demonstration.

[1] (1886) ILR 8 All 622

Written By

Sohini Chakraborty

KIIT School of Law, Bhubaneswar

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