Indian MRAs Will 'Boycott Marriage' If Marital Rape Criminalized, Disappointing Nobody

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Indian MRAs Will 'Boycott Marriage' If Marital Rape Criminalized, Disappointing Nobody

screenshot via YouTube

India is one of the 36 remaining countries with no laws against marital rape. Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code currently defines rape as “non-consensual sexual intercourse with a woman,” but provides an exception for married couples where the wife is older than 15. There's a lot that is disturbing about this, starting with the exception and moving on to the fact that rape is non-consensual sexual intercourse with anyone, not just women. But some of that is likely to change that week as the Delhi high court hears a case that may well result in marital rape finally being criminalized throughout the land.

It seems almost impossible that anyone would oppose this, but there is a stunning amount of backlash, mostly from men. VICE reports that this week, #MarriageStrike has been trending on Twitter in India, with many men online saying they will refuse to get married if they aren't allowed to rape their wives. Sounds like a win-win for everyone involved.

Opposition to the potential new statute includes both men who say they fear the law will result in false accusations against husbands by wives seeking alimony payments, and men who actually believe they should be allowed to rape their wives and that not being allowed to rape their wives will result in the destruction of the family unit.

“Already as of now in India, it is a crime for a man to get married. If a man gets married and if he is accused [of rape], there is no way for him to defend himself. He has no protection,” Anil Kumar, creator of the #marriagestrike hashtag and founder of men’s rights organisation Save Indian Family Foundation, told VICE World News. The proposed measure, however, does not equate an accusation of rape with conviction. [...]

Men’s rights groups such as Purush Aayog are pushing back legally and saying rape laws have no space in a marriage.

“I strongly think that consent and willingness of sexual acts are ingrained within the act of marriage. If you will bring this rape law inside the marriage and the husband will be given punishment, then who will marry?” Barkha Trehan, a woman and president of Purush Aayog, told VICE World News.

“Just yesterday, I received 15 to 20 calls from different men who are of marriageable age and they told me: ‘Why would I get married? Do I want to spoil my career? Do I want to lose my dignity? Do I want to become the biggest criminal on earth behind bars for no reason? Why would I want to marry?’”

As Indian feminist writer Dr. Meena Kandasamy noted on Twitter, "Men tweeting in favour of #marriagestrike are potential rapists. Possible rapists. Previous rapists. Why would any man who is self-respecting not want for marital rape to be criminalised? How can there be legal protection for rape only because it happens in a marriage?"

In a 2006 survey of 80,000 Indian women, 93 percent said that they had been sexually abused by their current or former husbands, and in a 2016 survey of Indian women who had experienced sexual abuse, 83 percent named their current husband as the perpetrator, while seven percent cited their ex-husband. It's clear a whole lot of these men consider marital rape a perk of the institution.

Via IndiaToday:

As per Nageshwar Rao, who served as director of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), “What’s the purpose of marriage at all if husband was to be sent to jail for sex against his wife’s wish, doesn’t it destroy family, ruin children and break their marriage?”

He goes on to say that a system where this happens is “anti-civilisational”. In a way, he reduces marriage to nothing more than legalised sex.

Then Chief Justice of India SA Bobde’s observation in March 2021, on a plea filed by a man accused of rape by a woman who was in a relationship with him for two years, was “however brutal the husband is...when two people [are] living as husband and wife...can sexual intercourse between them be called rape?”

In fact, the Chief Justice of India last year had asked a government employee if he would marry the woman who had accused him of repeatedly raping her. This can be seen as complete disregard of the pain the woman went through and a way to legalise rape.

It seems fair to say that if someone can't think of a "purpose" of marriage beyond getting to rape a woman legally, they really should avoid marriage altogether. Additionally, anyone who thinks women are so terrible that they will inevitably falsely accuse men of sexual assault in order to steal their money really shouldn't get married either. Not unless they are also arguing that people ought to be allowed to go on killing sprees because people are wrongly accused of murder sometimes. False accusations exist for literally every kind of crime. If they didn't, we would have no need for legal systems in the first place.

That marital rape is still legal in India (or anywhere) is horrifying, and it needs to change now. And as much as some men may be upset by it, many women (and men who are not the worst) are damned ready for it.


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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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