India’s Marital Rape Dilemma: Challenging Centuries-Old Norms

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In India, the archaic views of a 17th-century jurist still influence marital relations, allowing men to force sex on their wives without legal consequences.

Despite ongoing efforts by campaigners to change the law, conservatives argue that state interference could disrupt India’s marital traditions.

The Delhi High Court’s split verdict on the issue last year has prompted an appeal to the Supreme Court, with a hearing expected soon.

CNN spoke with three women who accuse their husbands of rape, shedding light on the pervasive issue. These women, using aliases, share their harrowing experiences.

Maya, 21, suffered mental and physical abuse from her husband, leading to four forced abortions. She left after two years of marriage and desires justice.

Lawyer Karuna Nundy advocates for legal change, aiming to eliminate the impunity granted to husbands in cases of marital rape.

Vidya, married at 19 without understanding sex, faced violence and coercion from her husband. She believes criminalizing marital rape would empower women to end abuse.

Nusrat, married under pressure, endures an abusive husband due to fear for her children’s well-being. She advocates for the outlawing of marital rape.

A nationwide survey reveals that 17.6% of women aged 15-49 feel unable to refuse sex, highlighting the prevalent struggle against societal expectations.

Several women, in arranged marriages, express the inability to say no to their husbands, reflecting the deeply ingrained patriarchal norms in Indian society.

Men’s rights activists, fearing misuse of the law, have protested against criminalizing marital rape, emphasizing potential false accusations.

The 2019-2021 National Family Health Survey indicates that a significant number of men believe in a husband’s right to use force if his wife refuses sex.

Despite diverse opinions, the campaign to criminalize marital rape confronts deeply rooted patriarchal norms, with the Supreme Court’s impending decision poised to impact millions.

Advocates stress that empowering women in marriage is not a fight against men but a collective effort against entrenched patriarchal structures.

Re-reported from the article originally published in The cnn news

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