A CRITICAL INVESTIGATION ON THE PREVALENCE OF MARITAL RAPE IN INDIA
1.1 Background of the study
The definition of rape under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code is extensive and intricate. At its core, rape is characterised as a coercive act involving sexual penetration, perpetrated against an individual without their voluntary permission. married rape satisfies all of these characteristics, with the exception that it occurs within the context of a married union. The absence of criminalization for rape inside married relationships in India is a notable discrepancy, given that the legality of a marital union does not condone any illegal behaviour, and domestic violence is recognised as a penal offence (Kalkod, 2022). What may potentially be the underlying cause? The legal framework does not explicitly codify the rights and responsibilities of spouses within the context of a marital union. However, it is generally anticipated that spouses will partake in conjugal rights, and the act of withholding or denying these rights might be considered valid reasons for annulling a marriage in circumstances of nonconsummation. Furthermore, if such denial happens in later years, it can be considered acceptable grounds for divorce. Within this particular framework, instances of marital rape are often seen to manifest in two distinct scenarios: firstly, when the denial of conjugal rights takes place due to various factors, and secondly, when the intention of the spouse is to engage in an assaultive act. The current extent of marital rape in India is uncertain, mostly because to the absence of a universally accepted definition for marital rape (Deosthali, Rege, & Arora, 2022). To illustrate the extent of the issue, it is worth noting that almost 30% of spouses in the Male Reproductive Health Survey conducted in Uttar Pradesh, India in 1995 reported engaging in forceful sexual intercourse (Yllö & Torres, 2016). In a recent research done in Mumbai, Deosthali et al. (2022) discovered that a significant proportion of women, namely 828 out of 1,783 (46.4%), disclosed instances of marital rape when seeking assistance for domestic violence. These findings were derived from the analysis of counselling records. In contrast, a mere 18 individuals, accounting for a mere 1.1% of the total sample size of 1,664 women, officially documented incidents of marital rape via the submission of medicolegal papers to the hospital.There exists significant variation in the reported prevalence of sexual violence perpetrated by intimate partners as shown in several research conducted in India. According to a poll conducted in 2010, it was found that around 20% of males acknowledged engaging in non-consensual sexual activity with their spouses at some point in their lives. In a separate survey conducted in a rural region of Karnataka, it was found that 36% of the female participants expressed agreement with the assertion that "a spouse may coerce his wife into engaging in sexual intercourse against her will" (Bhandare, 2015). According to Srivastava's (2016) mixed-method research conducted in Chennai, over 31% of women disclosed experiencing sexual violence perpetrated by their spouses. A comprehensive study conducted in four districts of Uttar Pradesh revealed that around 32% of married males had coerced their wives into engaging in sexual intercourse at some point in their lives. In a recent study, namely the National Family Health Survey (2019-2020), it was shown that a significant proportion of women who had been married at some point in their lives, namely 29%, reported instances of physical or sexual abuse perpetrated by their spouses. Chattopadhyay (2019) presents extensive data about the incidence of sexual abuse perpetrated by husbands during pregnancy. In a prenatal context, Varma et al. (2021) performed a research which revealed that over the preceding 12 months, 14%, 9%, and 15% of pregnant women experienced physical, psychological, and sexual violence, respectively. According to a recent research conducted by Rege et al. (2020), it was shown that a significant proportion of women, namely 40%, who disclosed instances of domestic abuse during pregnancy also experienced sexual violence perpetrated by their husbands. In a recent study, namely the National Family Health Survey (2019-2020), it was shown that a significant proportion of women who had been married at some point in their lives, namely 29%, reported instances of physical or sexual abuse perpetrated by their spouses. It is important to use caution when interpreting these statistics about the incidence of marital rape. Sexual violence in India is often under-reported, mostly owing to the presence of societal stigma and many impediments that survivors encounter, which are closely linked to conceptions of shame and honour. Therefore, the researcher sought to investigation of the prevalence of marital rape in India.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Sexual intercourse within the context of marriage entails the engagement of two persons, namely the husband and wife. It is possible for this act to be performed mechanically, even if one partner, often the woman, is not in an optimal psychological state for participation. The state of readiness and willingness to engage in sexual activity within the context of marriage is not a binary variable, meaning it cannot be strictly categorised as either being completely ready or reluctant. This concept was discussed by Agarwal (2015). Instead, it can be understood as existing on a spectrum that encompasses levels of preparedness and willingness on one end, progressing towards different degrees of reluctance, ranging from a mild disinterest but compliance if pressured, to a stronger resistance with a clear expression of unwillingness, and ultimately culminating in an absolute refusal that may require the use of physical force to elicit participation. Nevertheless, the issue persists about the criminality of marital rape in India. Hence, the need to investigate the prevalence of marital rape in India.
1.3 Objective of the study
The broad objective of the study is to investigate the prevalence of marital rape in India. The specific objectives is as follows
i. Examine the prevalence of marital rape among couples in India.
ii. Identify the factors associated with marital rape among couples in India
iii. Analyze the health consequences of marital rape in India.
1.4 Research questions
The following questions have been prepared for the study
i. What is the prevalence of marital rape among couples in India?
ii. What are the factors associated with marital rape among couples in India?
iii. What is the health consequences of marital rape in India?
1.5 Significance of the study
The study's results will have great importance for government officials and policy makers, as they will gain insight into the extensive impact of sexual violence on both genders. This knowledge will enable them to develop legislation aimed at addressing the problem of sexual violence and effectively prosecuting those found guilty of such offences.
The findings of the study will be significant to the academic community as it will contribute to the existing literature.
1.6 Scope of the study
The study focuses on investigating the prevalence of martal rape in India. Hence, the study will the prevalence of marital rape in India. Hence, the study will examine the prevalence of marital rape among couples in India, identify the factors associated with marital rape among couples in India and analyze the health consequences of marital rape in India.
1.7 Limitations of the study
Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. Insufficient funds tend to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire, and interview), which is why the researcher resorted to a moderate choice of sample size. More so, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research will be reduced.
1.8 Definition of terms
Marital rape:sexual acts committed without a wife's consent and/or against her will by the woman's husband.