Marital Rape Is Likely to Be Criminalised in India

A Big Conquest for Women

April 21st, 2016

The Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi said on the 19th of April that the government is planning to criminalise marital rape. This is certainly a step forward in the fight on violence against women, as there will be a decision coming from the government on the issue. As the Minister stated, “The concept of marital rape cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors-poverty, social customs and values, religious beliefs, the level of education/illiteracy”, and so on. This is the view of India within the international scenario, but it really does not reflect the will of people, especially the one of women.

The Minister went on saying that India has faced a number of complaints big enough to prove that violence against women within the marriage is a real issue and it needs to be taken into serious consideration. Many politicians and experts are supporting her in this campaign, such as the High-level Committee on the Status of Women, headed by Pam Rajput. In particular, she criticised the Indian legislature and highlighted the inability to address the issue of violence against women in cases other than where the wife’s age is less than 15 years.

To this purpose, it is important to remember that the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee), stated already in 2007 that India should extend the definition of rape to include the sexual abuse experienced by women and to remove the exception of marital rape from the definition of rape. Despite the existence of both International and regional legal instruments, the Indian government still not helps to foster justice for women. For this reason, Maneka Gandhi has to use her influence, persuasive powers and political heft to make the change possible.

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Cultural Diplomacy News

Paola Pluchino, CD-News, Berlin