Marriage is a common dream. The perfect moment where we are expected to find happiness… To feel content that the person standing opposite or next or sitting elsewhere is the one we’ve been waiting for all these years. There are age old dogmas which run in our society and the idea of marriage is one among them. Sure, it would have been the best practice years ago. But to keep following the same institution of marriage without posing questions about its practices in this era of enlightenment is a mistake.
There is a common tenet to exert dominance- both physical and sexual over a married woman by her husband. Sexual independence is only a dream to many women who feel bereft of having control over their own body. A UN survey says that 2/3 of married women are victims of marital rape. Marital rape is not an easy concept to be understood by many so to explain what it means, marital rape is when a married woman is physically or sexually abused by her husband without her consent.
Our society has been for long, driven by the idea of transaction that marriage also is being looked at as one. Matrimony is often seen as the transaction of ownership from the bride’s family to the groom. With such a transaction and signing of agreement, it is felt that open consent is given to dominate the woman involved and to reach any extent to implicate animalistic torture over her. Because naturally, she has been portrayed as a property according to this practice. There is a fault in the way people perceive marriage. It has shifted from the combination of hearts leading to asserting and establishing love for each other, to a menial idea of open and always available medium for sex.
The awareness about marital rape is so minimal that most women think of it to be a general practice. It is looked upon as a part in the process of getting married. The doctrine of ‘Pathi-Parameshwar’, wherein servitude to one’s husband is paramount is repulsive and to explain against it would only end futile. But how long can someone bear to stand such a torture. Stress after marriage increases abruptly for women due to various reasons, ill-treatment being the first. This is why as per another study, every six hours a married woman is forced to commit suicide.
She walked down the aisle, bursting with smiles. The veil and her bonnet combined couldn’t contain the outburst of joy on her face. He stood there, the guy who would spend eternity with her. He smiled too. She stepped onto the altar and looked at him. He was handsome, well built… a fine lad. She felt glee… Happiness attributed to the content that her parents have done enough justice to the belief she had in them- to have found her the perfect groom. Everything around her was pure magic and she felt ecstatic that this moment was just as she had dreamt. Perfect. All this to get beaten up, tortured, assaulted and feel deprived? Sounds wrong doesn’t it? Well, what is more wrong is that marital rape is not an offence punishable by law according to the Indian Penal Code.
It states that marital rape can only be punishable if the victim is under 16 years of age when the legal age for a woman to get married is 18. Such an age old legislation that is not even under consideration to be altered withal the idea of suppression leads to a situation where many cries of women have gone unheard of. The reason stated for not changing law with respect to this aspect, the reply given was that it would “weaken the institution of marriage”. Well if reporting marital rape would weaken it, I am startled if it was believed that upholding sexual assault would strengthen matrimony.
Well, what is more wrong is that marital rape is not an offence punishable by law according to the Indian Penal Code.
We all talk about ‘Mardaani’ and about how cool it is to be manly. Is it manly to assault and torture one’s wife for something as futile as sex? Is the woman you married just an instrument for pleasure and isn’t her respect supposed to be your priority? Is a woman supposed to be servile or is her life just to please you? Every woman has a say on everything that concerns her. Her body, soul and mind are hers alone and she has total independence over them just as anyone should. Anything apart from that independence is a violation that should be curbed for if a woman is not safe at home, how will she feel safe elsewhere?
So, if she consented to the marriage saying “I Do”, know that the “I Do” is not for anything and everything that is to follow.