Marital rape: Men's rights activists raise concerns over 'misuse', gender neutral laws
While the nation debates about women rights and marital rape, men's rights activists are pleading to look at the flipside of the issue. Many male domestic abuse survivors and men's rights activists have expressed concern over misuse of criminalisation of marital rape.
NGOs working with male victims of domestic violence and abuse have raised questions over misuse of criminalisation of marital rape. "Marriage is not a commercial contract. I am not denying that there are instances of sexual abuse or marital rape but it is very rare. There are enough provisions under the existing domestic violence act for the victims to seek justice but what is to stop the misuse of criminalisation of marital rape and if it is not gender neutral?," asked Kumar Jahgirdar, President, Children's Rights Initiative for Shared Parenting (CRISP).
The Union government on Wednesday told a court in Delhi that marital rape should not be criminalised, on the ground that it may "destabilise the institution of marriage". Men's rights activists have also raised concerns over who the law is serving.
"Law only for the cosmopolitan, independent woman?"
Members of CRISP maintain that the current laws give women an advantage over men, including laws against domestic violence. "There are provisions that protect the women from physical, mental and sexual abuse. While men too can raise their voice, they are often ridiculed. Will gender neutral laws set this right? The notion that only women can be victims is misplaced and unfair. Yes, women victims may be more in number but less number of male victims does not mean they are non-existent," said Avinash (name changed on request), who is fighting a legal battle over domestic abuse.
Fears also loom large on whether criminalisation of marital rape is only to please the cosmopolitan, independent women while leaving the rural, illiterate and dependent women in the lurch.
"To criminalise what happens in the couple's private life will destroy all chances of reconciliation. Family courts in India are also set up to promote reconciliation. Laws should not be brought in to appeal only to cosmopolitan, independent women who can live their lives without husbands or families but spare a thought for women from different backgrounds who are heavily dependant on husbands or family. There is a need to create awareness before jumping into criminalising marital rape," Jahgirdar added.
"When men are finding it difficult to nail the false cases of dowry against them, how do you expect them to protect themselves from false cases of marital rape? When section 498 A is being blatantly misused, what stops someone, determined to take you down, from deeming a consensual act as rape? Courts have observed that 82 per cent dowry cases end up with acquittal but with the husband and his family are shamed for no fault," said a 31-year-old IT professional. He is fighting a defamation case against his estranged wife for pressing false charges.
Men rights activists have urged the Women's commission to consel, create awareness and acknowledge that men can be victims too, before backing the demand for criminalisation of marital rape.