NEW DELHI: After K Kanimozhi of DMK raised a written question asking whether the government is planning to amend the law to make marital rape a crime, the Centre on Thursday offered its response in Parliament and said that the concept of marital rape does not apply in India as marriage is treated sacred here.

“It is considered that the concept of marital rape, as understood globally, cannot be rightfully applied in the Indian context because of different reasons, including level of education, illiteracy, poverty, myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs, mindset of the society to treat marriage as a sacrament,” Minister of State for Home, Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary said in the Rajya Sabha.

Kanimozhi, citing a UN estimate that 75 per cent of the married women in India are subjected to marital rape, had also asked whether the UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women had suggested to India that marital rape should be criminalized.

In its response, the minister stated that the UN panel had indeed suggested that marital rape should be made criminalized but added that there was no proposal to do the same.

“The Law Commission of India did not recommend criminalization of marital rape by amending the exception to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and hence at present, there is no proposal to bring any amendment to the IPC in this regard,” the Minister said.

In spite of the several protests against rape all across the country in past few years, the stand taken by the Home Ministry on married women who are forced to be sexually involved with their husbands is seen as a regressive step. If not clearly, it indirectly sends out a message that the government believes illiteracy, poverty and the sacrament of marriage more valuable than the protection and safety of the women.
Opposing the call, Delhi Women Commission Chairperson Barkha Singh said, “There should be no limits on the freedom of a woman. Women must have right to oppose force even from husband.”

Apart from Singh, slamming Chaudhary for the decision, former Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising expressed, “There is a need for the amendment in the law. A rape is a rape. The reason offered by the minister is incorrect and wrong.”

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