The country is not changing because of Arvind Kejriwal or the recently hyped leftist 'nincompoop' Kanhaiya. Nor is it taking the course of a mindset change just because of prime minister Modi. India is the name of an evolution! India is not limited to mere maps, elections, politics, religion or anything in particular. It is the amalgam of anything and everything that exists on the piece of land surrounded by the oceans and guarded by the king of height - the Himalayas. Today, while we are talking about Bharat Mata, the Mother India and her respect, do we give our head to understanding what does Bharat Mata want? Yes, as the sons of Mother India, it is our inevitable duty and a pleasure to safeguard her honour. However, don't forget that Mother India has daughters as well! Her compassionate heart did not only nourish sons down the ages but also daughters and with an equal measure of compassion and responsibility. So, the sons of Bharat Mata only care about mother? Don't they care for the sisters? This is a question worth to be asked in the present scenario. Yes, if you could guess it, I am talking about the ongoing debate of marital rape law in the country. I would like to extend my thanks to Hitaishi and Puja to bring the issue to light. My views on marital rape are lucid and direct - yes, Indian women need a law to safeguard them against this heinous crime. However, there is also another point that I would like to hint today.
Are Muslim women not Indian?
Marital rape law will be a strength, no doubt; however, do Muslim women have different than Indian identity? On one hand, we are talking about giving more power and shield to Indian women and on the other, we have shariyas where 'talaak, talaak, talaak' can push a Muslim lady to life-long remorse and helplessness. On one side, we regularly have debates on whether religion is above or the nation and this dark side of Islam can push women for a forced divorce from the men's side. Now, the people who are advocating for the law are either closing their eyes to the bitter realities or are intimidated by the Islamic institutions or might be ensuring that their vote banks are not sliding away. Is everything in India only about the vote? For us, for the legislators, for the representatives of the Indian citizen, does the issue of women safety come only after politics? Days and night, we are batting for women empowerment but we have constantly left a section of Indian women on the margin. Who is to be asked? To me, the governments since the independence, the congress party, the current Modi government, the Muslim institutions and also the champions of women rights, all these people are accountable.
The misuse of law dilemma:
Yes, the supreme court bench headed by Justice C.K. Prasad issued in July 2014 that automatic arrest in the cases filed under 498-A should be stopped. The advisory said that unless the evidence provided are not satisfactory, there cannot be any arrest of the husband or the family members (in-laws). According to the data, more than 80% of cases filed under this section of IPC are fake and fabricated to trap the husband or in-laws by 'vengeful' women. Therefore, people are worried that the law for marital rape, if made, will also be 'abused' by women.
I have a simple question. Those who are afraid, be it institution or individual, what's their stand on women in India? Is it of a goddess or of a devil? This side of line, we always talk about women empowerment and safety; that side of line, and we are ready to put the entire female fraternity in the witness box even when there is no law approved by the government! Is this fair, dear oppressors? Yes, there might be misuse of the law, but, as the court has secured safety of innocents against the manufactured allegations in 498-A, there will surely be a backup plan. To secure the justice of innocents and do the justice with culprits are the part of the judiciary system. They will do their job well as they have been doing since independence. The part of the parliament is bringing the law into action; they must do their job with responsibility.
The political Hay Tauba:
Today, the Congress in opposition seems to take the moral high ground on almost each issue that the Modi government raises. They are escalating the marital rape law debate as well. However, this voice is not new in the Indian context. Women rights activists from time to time have been lobbying for this law. During the 1980s, there was much debate on the subject but the government did not pay any heed. Who was in power all the years? Who was 'ruling' the independent India for 60 long years? Will anyone in Congress tell me that why did they not think about the safety of women for almost 7 decades? The matter of fact is that the Congress have no face left to hide in matters related to women. Rajiv Gandhi was the person to deprive Indian Muslim women of the right of maintenance in 1978. To secure his vote bank, he put the life of Muslim women at the altar and came up with a counter to the supreme court judgement in the much-debated Shah Bano case of 1978. Do the Congress have a moral right to put BJP in the witness box?
On the other hand, Modi government, and especially Menaka Gandhi, the minister for Women & Child Development, are not coming up right, to my thinking. The argument that this law might put the validity of marriages in India at danger is baseless. How can anyone convict every single bride in India on the basis of some hypothesis?
My stand is clear - we want the law! There are no more excuses left to postpone the issues. Let there be debates on marital rape law; let there be discussions; let there be the law, eventually.