Displaying solidarity against marital rape, a men’s group has submitted its application in support of the Petitioners before the Delhi High Court, in the quest for criminalization of marital rape. They have been impleaded in the case.
The Forum to Engage Men (FEM) contends that setting aside the exception to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code would amount to “sending a message to the married men of India that coercive sex with their wives is a criminal act”.
“This will set a new norm, and act as a deterrent. Such an order by this Court will have the potential to benefit tens of millions of women in India, who are otherwise at the risk of sexual violence and rape by their husbands and partners every day,” the application added.
FEM’s application relied on the prevailing statistics, to re-establish the fact that the “process of socialization of men happens in such a way the men feel that they are entitled to have sex with women at their will”.
“The Forum to Engage men (FEM) seek to implead ourselves in the present petition brought by the RIT Foundation, as we wish for our wives and the wives of all Indian men, not to be reduced to legal objects incapable of sexual will, and with no legal ability for sexual expression. Indeed, we stand with married and all women for effective decision-making over their reproduction,” it therefore contended, proposing that a complaint of marital rape be accepted only when made by the victim, in order to prevent misutilisation of the provision.
The Application has been filed in a Petition by the RTI Foundation, with the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) and a marital rape victim joined as Petitioners, submitting arguments as interveners. Another intervener, Mr. Abdullah Khan, whose wife has alleged rape and unnatural sex in a complaint against him, has claimed immunity, contending that the amendments in criminal law override Section 377 (unnatural sex) in case of married couples.
During the hearing on Thursday, the Petitioners relied on the recent Supreme Court judgment declaring the right to privacy as a Fundamental Right. Senior Counsel, Mr. Colin Gonsalves underlined the portions of the judgment dealing with the value of physical integrity, sexual autonomy, and reproductive choice. Mr. Gonsalves, however, clarified that the husband cannot claim right to privacy to justify raping his wife. Ms. Karuna Nundy, Advocate for RIT and AIDWA made brief submissions on the Protection Against Domestic Violence Act, the fact that it is the civil remedy for rape by husbands and flies in the face of the government's submissions. Ms. Nundy also placed before the court Section 26, which explicitly preserves criminal remedies for the civil violations under the Domestic Violence Act, where such remedies are available.
Read the Impleading Application Here