On criminalisation of marital rape, India’s central government believes it “could open the floodgates of false cases being made with ulterior motives”.
The government’s view was stated in written submissions filed on January 12 in the Delhi High Court, which has been hearing petitions seeking criminalisation of marital rape. The Centre said on the matter that “apprehensions of gross misuse of the offence of marital rape cannot be ruled out”, according to a report in India Today.
The petitions in court challenge Exception 2 to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, which states that any forceful sexual act performed by a man on his own wife is not rape as long as she is above 15 years of age.
On Friday, the Centre asked the court for more time to finalise its stand on criminalisation of marital rape. “What constitutes marital rape and what does not would need to be defined precisely before a view on criminalisation is taken,” the government has submitted, adding that “adequate procedural safeguards” would have to be put in place.
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The central government also reportedly stated that India cannot “blindly follow” the western countries which have criminalised marital rape as India has “unique social conditions such as lack of literacy, poverty, lack of financial empowerment, mindset of society, etc.”
“Making marital rape a cognisable, non-bailable offence would stop all chances of settlement between husband and wife which is possible under Section 498A,” the government said.
It also supported the argument of men’s rights groups that there are other laws, including the Domestic Violence Act, which provide for punishment in cases of sexual violence between husband and wife.