Earlier this year, the Delhi High Court began hearing petitions challenging the constitutionality of the marital rape exception to section 375 of the Indian Penal Code. The conscious leaving out of marital rape from criminalization via the country’s rape law has effectively ensured that rape within marriage is legal or more precisely – rape within marriage does not exist. This blog post attempts to capture the arguments in favor of removing this exception to marital rape.
In 2013, Independent Thought, a voluntary organisation involved with the issue of child rights approached the Supreme Court seeking a declaration that Exception 2 to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code violates Articles 14, 15 and 21 of the Constitution to the extent that fixes a lower age of consent and permits forced sexual intercourse by the husband with a girl who is between the ages of 15 to 18. Consequently, on 28.08.2017, an application for Intervention was filed on behalf of the Child Rights Trust, a non-governmental organisation working to secure Every Right for Every Child. Advocate Jayna Kothari, Executive Director of the Centre for Law & Policy Research appeared and argued on behalf of the Child Rights Trust.
Podcast on CLPR’s interventions against Child Marriage. Learn about our research into, and litigation against, Child Marriage and Marital Rape Exception.
With utmost respect to the Supreme Court, it is absolutely incorrect to state that domestic violence is gender-neutral. It is not. The world over, a vast majority of domestic violence is experienced by women at the hands of men. It is not a random event of violence but is a consequence and a cause of women’s inequality and is linked to the discrimination and devaluing of women. As per the National Crime Records Bureau, reported cases of domestic violence in India went up from 50,703 in 2003 to 1,18,866 in 2013. These are all cases of domestic violence against men. The U.K. Violent Crime and Sexual Offences study of 2011-2012 reported that 80 per cent of offenders in domestic or sexual violence were male.
hile endorsing these criticisms of the draft bill, CLPR has in its comments to the Ministry, highlighted some additional points of concern and has suggested measures which could possibly strengthen the law. For instance, with regard to the enforcement mechanism, CLPR has suggested that it is imperative that there be an identification of nodal authorities such as the National Commission for Women, the Juvenile justice authorities as well as the Labour Department, which are crucial to the smooth and coordinated enforcement of the provisions of the bill. These nodal authorities can receive complaints and take the assistance of support services provided by stakeholders and non-governmental organizations, such as Childline.
While conducting a study of the Fast Track Courts that have been instituted in Bangalore to try cases of rape and sexual assault, it was startling to discover that out of the 12 cases that have been disposed of by the FTCs since their establishment, 11 resulted in acquittals. The only case which resulted in the conviction of the accused was for the offence of “attempt to rape” and not rape. In this case, the court heavily relied on the medical reports which stated that the victim was “used to having sexual intercourse.”1 This conclusion was drawn by the Medical Officer upon conducting the two-finger test”.
The gruesome gang rape in Delhi in December 2012 re-ignited popular demands for fast-track courts to be established to conduct speedy trials in cases of sexual violence against women and on August 13, 2013, the Government of Karnataka passed an order (G.O. No.74 LCE 2013, dated 13.08. 2013) directing 10 fast track courts to be set up in Karnataka solely to try cases of rape and sexual assault against women. CLPR conducted a detailed study of the setup and working of these fast track courts.
The 2013 United Nations theme for International Women’s Day fits into the theme of the 57th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women being held at the United Nations Headquarters, New York. Making the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls its major theme, the session seeks to focus on two key areas – (1) the prevention of violence and (2) the provision of support systems and rehabilitative measures to victims of violence.