Status of Marital Rape in India
Recently, the Delhi High Court has given a divided decision on considering marital rape as a crime.
The judges of the Delhi High Court have expressed differing views on the criminalization of marital rape.
The decision has been given on petitions seeking to do away with the exception existing in rape laws that protect husbands.
Rape is defined in section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). It lists several notions of mutual consent. If these are violated, the man will be considered guilty of rape.
However, exception number 2 of section 375 excludes marital rape from the purview of the offence. It states that the sexual act of a man with his own wife (who is not less than 15 years of age) is not rape.
Section 375 was amended in 2013 to increase the age of consensual sex to 18 years. This amendment was made to make this section at par with other laws. In other laws, a person below the age of 18 is considered a ‘boy/girl’.
But under this exception number-2 of section 375 was not amended. This has resulted in a situation where the husband can have coercive sex with his minor wife between the age of 15 to 18 years.
In this regard, in Independent Thought v Union of India case, the Supreme Court held that the case of Exception No. 2, in so far as it relates to a girl under the age of 18 years, can be quashed.
However, this case was not related to the issue of marital rape. Also, no amendment has been made so far to include the condition of 18 years instead of 15 years in the case of marital rape in Exception No. 2 of section 375.
Source – The Hindu