When Protector Turns Abuser

“Dreams like shattered mirrors
Your words expose my nakedness
I tried to defend my very being
You held up your hand and silenced me.”[1]


Before coming to the issue of Marital Rape, allow me first to enunciate one simple fact that a rapist is regardless of birth, age, literacy/illiteracy, social strata, religious either or moral compunctions a rapist and not otherwise and should be treated so. I am no judge, but it requires no genius to discern that a rapist is no imbecile when he commits such a heinous crime neither is he insane so as to be ignorant of his actions and their resultant reactions.

Let us then come to the question of Indian law, which rules out the condition of marital rape except under such conditions, i.e. unless the girl is below 15 years old or if the wife is living separately and is raped then[2]. However, until now marital rape only exists in theory and has not been recognised as a serious crime. This has drawn considerable flak from human rights activists, feminists alike who are crying of foul play and are constantly advocating as to why it should be criminalized. Then, there is another section of the society who are against of passing such a law, which they perceive would jeopardise the institution of marriage and also open the gateway for embittered wives to settle scores with their husbands[3].

Before taking sides on this issue or rather taking sides at all with either of these opposite extremes, I’ll vouch for sexual abuse, instead of marital rape; since sexual abuse is no different than rape; only here your abuser or rapist, as you may call it, may be the one you are most intimate with and holds a strategic position in your life.

Not less than a decade ago, the Oprah Winfrey Show aired the plight of several housewives who were raped and battered by their husbands. Oprah also interviewed many abusers, who admitted they felt powerful and in control[4] when they raped, bashed and throttled their wives.

To this end, the Government of India passed Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (2005), which includes domestic and sexual abuse and calls for the law to intervene. However, this law merely plays prelude to a malady, as the minimum punishment for this offence if proved is only one year or a penalty of Rs.20000, if found to be guilty. It neither entails immediate arrest of the accused nor provides immediate shelter and relief to the victim concerned. It is only a civil law that covers protection issues of the woman, but not criminal penalization. What was initially set up to ensure speedy trial for cases within sixty days, as a matter of fact, sometimes ranges from six months to more than two years, as reported by the New Indian Express[5]. In India, it sourly dampens the morale of the victimized woman, who has to go from pillar to post to register her grievances and prosecute her abuser. At the least, she takes a divorce. But shouldn’t her offender be booked for the crime and the victim offered a promising restitution. The law in this regard, is still a passé and requires to be reviewed. More importantly, sexual offences such as these should be given grave importance and adjudged as such. Marriage is of value only when two people love and cherish each other and work towards preserving the sanctity of the institution; it is rubbish when it is used as a ground for abetting depraved crimes.


Additional References

NCADVs 16 th National Conference on Domestic Violence Preserving Our Roots While Looking to the Future Intimate Partner Sexual Abuse: The Hidden Dimension. www.slideplayer.com/slide/707916/



[1] Courageous Woman. Hidden Hurt: Domestic Abuse Information. www.hiddenhurt.co.uk/domestic_violence_poems_2.html

[2] Law on Marital Rape: Why The Domestic Violence Act is a Reasonable Substitute. First Post India

[3] See Why Marital rape Must Be A Crime. The Hindu. Thehindu.com

[4] Why Men Abuse Women. The Oprah Winfrey Show. www.oprah.com

[5] Domestic Violence Act Fails To Serve Its Purpose. The New Indian Express