Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sex: Meaning and its interpretations.

Taken from
When the husband turns predator
Deepali Dhingra, TNN 17 June 2006, 08:49pm IST

While the law turns a blind eye towards marital rape, an increasing number of women are becoming

In the United Kingdom, the government is preparing a draft stating rape of a wife by her husband will be considered as heinous a crime as gangrape. In India, where this is a daily occurrence in many homes, the law is silent on the issue.

Two weeks ago, a woman in Lucknow accused her husband of raping her. Her medical report confirmed the signs of rape and torture as there were burn and injury marks on her body. Two days back, in Mumbai, a man murdered his wife as she refused to have sex with him.

Just two examples of a problem that India continues to face. The law, meanwhile, remains silent. According to the Indian Penal Code, 1860, Section 375, sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, if she is not under 16 years of age, is not rape. And while most of the world -- including Mexico, Australia, Bulgaria, France, Nepal and South Africa -- have changed laws to help the women, India still refuses to do anything about it.

And women end up bearing the brunt. According to some estimates, almost 40 per cent face such a scenario at one time or the other. Says sexologist Prakash Kothari, who often has women coming to him complaining about sexual abuse by their husbands, "They use a different language to say that.

They might say that my husband is using me as a sleeping pill, but it means the same". He also adds that rape by husband is not restricted to the lower strata of society alone. "Rich or poor, educated or uneducated, this happens everywhere," he says.

According to women's rights activist Nirmala Samant Prabhavalkar, there are a few options available to the aggrieved women. "In 2005, a Bill was passed, which equated marital rape with domestic violence. The Protection of Women From Domestic Violence Act, 2005, considers the term 'domestic violence' as encompassing every possibility as it covers all forms of physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and economic abuse.

If a woman is a marital rape victim, she can go to the court and obtain judicial separation from her husband but she can't get him arrested," says Prabhavalkar.

Meanwhile, advocate Mridula Kadam terms marital rape as a social issue. "In India, the husband is the dominant partner. Marriage is all about fulfilling the husband's conjugal rights and the wife cannot refuse him. By the very same set-up, a husband cannot be said to have raped his wife. So even if a woman is raped by her husband, she finds it difficult to reveal it."

And those who dare, face various hurdles. "Women are asked a lot of embarrassing questions and society frowns upon them," says lawyer Satish Maneshinde. But there are women who are ready to fight it out for the sake of their dignity. "Till a few years back, women would accept their husbands' behaviour but things are changing for the better now," says Kothari.

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