The All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) strongly denounces the recent order of the Sessions Court, Greater Bombay that once again refused to recognize marital rape as violence and cruelty.
In this case, the complainant had accused her husband of marital rape that had led to her suffering from paralysis of the lower body as part of her complaint under sections 498-A, 323, 504, 506(2) r/w 34 of IPC. The husband had obviously subjected the wife to gross physical violence and it is therefore inexplicable how the court did not hold him prima facie guilty of cruelty under S498A of the IPC which punishes both gross physical and mental violence apart from sections of the IPC which punish Grievous Hurt etc. Sessions Court, while dismissing the wife’s claim of forced sexual intercourse by her husband, on account of him being her husband, was only able to add a pitiful comment on the extreme physical injuries suffered by her. The court while granting anticipatory bail to the husband and his family members, stated “ It is very unfortunate that the young girl suffered from Paralysis. However, the Applicants cannot be held responsible for the same”.
The decision of the Sessions Court is not only a setback for the long and arduous struggle in the judicial recognition of marital rape but also is further evidence of the insensitivity and patriarchal attitudes prevalent within the judiciary that require immediate redressal. In spite of progressive judgements on the issue by the Supreme Court and High Courts including the recent Kerala High Court which recognised marital rape as cruelty and therefore a ground for divorce, the crime of marital rape continues to be ignored by the lower judiciary. It is essential for the judiciary to recognize that marital rape has no place in civilized societies which must consider men and women as equal partners and recognise that women have bodily integrity and autonomy and are fully entitled to say no to sexual intercourse within and outside marriages. The need for training and sensitization of the judiciary on these subjects is essential.
Despite legislations such as the Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act 2005 which specifically recognise marital rape as a form of intimate partner violence, penal recognition of this heinous act continuous to be ignored. AIDWA has repeatedly called for the statutory recognition of marital rape as a crime under the Indian Penal Code and once again this judgement highlights the need for the same.
AIDWA therefore reiterates its demand that marital rape be recognized as an offence specifically under the penal law. It also demands that this lower court judgement from Greater Bombay be appealed against and overturned.