Young Adults

Victims of marital rape.
By T. Rajagopalan
When the sorrow-stricken Sushmita (22) complained to her parents that her husband Ramesh (27) had been of late, berating and beating her for declining to permit him to cohabit with her, barely a week after giving birth to a baby girl her parents tried to make her agree to fulfill her husband’s desire if only to protect the honour of their family, since he might take recourse to deserting and wedding someone else.

Sushmita suffered for six months agreeing for this sex, but when he brutally treated her as a mere sex object demanding sex multiple times in a day, she tried her best to find legal recourse. With the help of her sympathatic well-wishers she approached the family court and obtained a divorce mutual consent. “Divorce has proven to be a civil death but it’s still better than being forced to have sex despite my frail health every day,” Sushmita said breathing a sigh of relief. She decided to stay away from her parents and is now living with her daughter elsewhere.

This is a case of marital rape. With no legal recourse for victims of marital rape in India filling a case under the Domestic Violence Act or filling for a divorce appeared the only way out for a woman. As per Section 375 IPC, “Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape.”

Activists rue that in many cases the victim is denied compensation despite being injured as marital rape is not a crime in this country. In most cases of domestic violence the woman is also a victim of marital rape, said some experts working on this issue.

Forced sex

“In one such case the husband forced his wife to have sex during a fairly advanced stage of pregnancy and the woman had to undergo a Caesarian. We had to slap the domestic violence case first and when the woman expressed her desire to obtain a divorce we helped her. She is one of the rare cases where we were able to get compensation,” said an activist Jameela Nishat. Though the Law Commission had recommended in 2000 that forced intercourse in marriage should be considered a form of violence, nothing has changed for the woman.

There are also enough cases where men are victims; their spouses force them to have sex with them excessively and beyond the endurance of these unfortunate men.

In one instance that came up in a domestic court in Mumbai the man sought separation from his wife alleging that she was aggressive and  autocratic with an insatiable appetite for sex. He wailed that ever since his marriage with her, she had been harassing him. He alleged that she administered him medicines and also forced him to consume liquor. He further alleged that she used to force him into having unnatural sex and whenever he tried to resist she would abuse him. The family court granted the divorce.

It can result in divorce

Sexual burnout syndrome can also bring about divorce. In this condition a person who used to lead an extra active sex life, all of a sudden, finds that it doesn’t give him the delight any more. He finds his sex drive climbing down. His sex organ also doesn’t rise often as it used to, all the stimulation by his spouse notwithstanding. Dr Naravana Reddy,  repute sexologist says: “Some people may experience emotional and physical exhaustion,  sense of estrangement and feelings of detachment in the sexual relationship.” He further states that in the case of sexual burnout syndrome those who were sexually active from an early age and compulsively engaged in sex with a high frequency sometimes more than once in a single day for an extended period run the risk of getting sexually fatigued. Remember the deceased cricketer Bob Bloomer’s quote “Congaested cricket iteneraries are the root cause of player’s burnout.” For upwards of seven decades sexology has steadfastly proclaimed that a very large proportion of divorces have their root causes in sexual marital misrelations. Affirmation, has come from exhaustive British Government findings.

Sexual maladjustment, albeit not the whole cause of divorce, does play a pivotal role. A British Royal Commission made a thorough survey of the problems of marriage and particularly divorce, including the testimony of myriad expert witnesses, lawyers, judges and psychiatrists, teachers, probation officials and many others who dealt with sex problems. Church functionaries also evinced a keen interest in these.

Here is what the Methodist Church of Great Britain said: “The extent of marriages breaking down is due (a) to inadequate preparation for marriage among other causes, it ignorance of the physical facts of life on which marriage depends and of the mutual adjustments the relationships proper to marriage, (b) to lack of knowledge of the purposes  which marriages should fulfil in the life of those who contract it and in the life of the community namely, fellowship and  parenthood in the first – and the stability of home life and the nurture of children in the second, (c) failure to recognise the binding character of the marriage relationship”.

The British lawyers organisation expressed their opinion that sexual failure is the primary and basic cause and they further suggested that the remedy appears to be  more adequate for premarital education for both sexes. The husband who spends his evenings in the public houses or with other women, the wife who is constantly away from him in the company of her mother, the drinking wife, the nagging wife, and the violent husband become so because the physical side of their marriage is unsatisfactory. Often, they never realise the true cause.”

The prerequisite for marriage

“No marriage should take place unless a formal engagement had been registered at least three months  before hand,” suggested a British woman lawyer who further advised  and before the engagement could be  registered the minister or registrar should interview both parties and satisfy himself that they have sufficient knowledge of each other to justify the marriage. He, if not satisfied, should have the power to postpone the ceremony.”

English courts recognise, as reasons for divorce, causes other than adultery, although adultery predominates. In some states in the US, as in England, a single case of adultery, if proved in court, is sufficient for divorce. The National Association for Mental Health (British) has a different idea. “We deplore the degrading use of it which is commonly made of a single act of adultery in order to establish a divorce.

In our view divorce should be usually confined to repeated acts of adultery. We believe that single, isolated, impulsive acts of extramarital sexual intercourse may be compatible with a deeper loyalty to the spouse.

“The association does not think that single acts of adultery should be condoned, but that the guilty party should not be severely penalised by the destruction of marital happiness as a result of a rash and perhaps ill-considered act.”

Delhi Press Magazines

Woman's Era Aliv