Marital rape a crime in many countries, an exception in many more: 

Marital rape a crime in many countries, an exception in many more

Context

  • The central government had filed an affidavit in Delhi High Court, arguing that marital rape should not be criminalized, on the ground that it may “destabilize the institution of marriage”.

The issue of Marital immunity

  • Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code defines rape.
  • Section 375 makes an exception for marital rape by stating, “Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.”

Grounds laid down for Marital immunity

  • The grounds for “marital immunity” for rape prosecution were laid by Chief Justice Sir Matthew Hale in The History of the Pleas of the Crown, published in 1736.

The UN Women’s 2011 report

  • According to the UN Women’s 2011 report, out of 179 countries for which data was available, 52 had amended their legislation to explicitly make marital rape a criminal offence.

Law on marital rape welcomed by other developing countries

  • Australia, several Scandinavian countries, US, UK, all have their marital rape on the shelf protecting the victim.  
  • In 2002, in a shining manner Nepal got rid of the marital rape exception after its Supreme Court held that it went against the constitutional right of equal protection and the right to privacy.

India still lagging behind

  • India like the remaining countries makes an exception for marital rape in their rape laws.
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