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Rape is a grave offence in opposition to women. The intrusion of a woman’s dignity and vanity without her permission and it, whilst her husband commits such an act, then a woman is simply taken into consideration as an item pleasurable to one’s sexual desires.

In Indian society, marital rape is taken into consideration one of the maximum common and derogatory styles of humiliation, however it is hidden beneath the shelter of marital status. India is one of these thirty-six nations which have nonetheless not criminalized marital rape. Although, some of the petitions were filed in the Supreme Court and diverse High Courts tough the constitutionality of this exception to section 375 of the Indian Penal Code.

According to section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, rape is taken into consideration against the law. However, on the alternative hand, marital rape continues to be not taken into consideration against the law however it’s also an exception to section 375 of the IPC declaring that sexual intercourse with the aid of using a person together along with his very own spouse isn’t considered rape; however, the spouse must not be under 15 years of age. Marital rape explicitly offers with the rape of a spouse with the aid of using her husband without her consent. Therefore, it is secure to mention that marital rape is taken into consideration a criminal motion below section 375 of the Indian Penal Code.


Marital rape is considered as the act of having forceful sexual intercourse or relations with the wife without their consent. The absence of consent is the essential element, and it should not involve any physical violence. Marital rape is measured as a form of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Though, sexual intercourse within marriage was viewed as a right of spouses, indulging in the act without the spouse’s consent is now extensively classified as rape by many cultures around the world, rejected by international conventions, and increasingly criminalized.

Marital rape is considered as a lawful ground for divorce.

Marital rape is a lawful ground to claim divorce, the Kerala high court has recently said that incidents of marital rape happens when the husband is under the notion that the body of his wife is owed to him, but such notion has no place in modern social jurisprudence.

While marital rape is not a criminal offence under Indian law, it amounts to cruelty a Division Bench of Justices A Muhammed Mustaque and Justice Kauser Edappagath said, “treating a wife’s body as something owing to the husband and committing sexual acts in contradiction of her will is nothing but marital rape,” the court said adding that just because the law does not recognize marital rape, it does not mean that the court will not recognize this as a form of brutality to grant a divorce.

Domestic violence in India is an entrenched problem and has only gotten worse in recent years. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report, Crime in India, published in 2019[1], around 70% of girls in India are victims of domestic violence. One such manifestation of domestic violence is marital rape. Marital rape, in which you force your partner to have sexual intercourse without proper consent, is an unfair but not uncommon way of demeaning and disempowering girls.

Today, Marital rape has been impeached in more than a hundred nations but, unfortunately, India is one of the few 36 countries in which marital rape remains non-criminalized.

Even though many legal amendments had been performed in criminal regulation for the safety of the girls, the non-criminalization of marital rape in India undermines the honor and human rights of girls.


The definition of rape codified in Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) consists of all styles of sexual attack related to non-consensual intercourse with a female.

The non-criminalization of spousal rape in India is based on exception 2 through section 375.

However, Exception 2 to Section 375 exempts unwilling sexual intercourse among a husband and a spouse over fifteen years old as defined by “rape” in Article 375 and therefore immunizes these criminal offences.

As according to current law, a spouse is presumed to supply perpetual consent to have intercourse together along with her husband after getting into marital relations.

The idea of marital rape in India is the epitome of what we name an “implied consent”. Marriage between a man and a woman right here means that everyone has given their consent to intercourse, and it cannot be otherwise.


  • Doctrine of coverture: de-criminalization of marital rape dates back to British times. The marital rape in large part galvanized through and derived from this doctrine of merging the woman’s identification therewith of her husband. At the time the IPC was drafted within the 1860s, a married female was now no longer taken into consideration an independent legal entity. The marital exception to the IPC’s definition of rape turned into drafted on the idea of Victorian patriarchal norms that did now no longer apprehend men and women as equals, did now no longer permit married women to personal property, and merged the identities of husband and wife beneath the “Doctrine of Coverture.”
  • Article 14 Violation: Marital rape is a violation of the equal rights enshrined under Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. The Exception creates classes of women primarily based totally on their marital reputation and immunizes moves perpetrated with the aid of using men against their wives. In doing so, the Exception makes feasible the victimization of married women for no cause aside from their marital reputation, whilst shielding single women from those same acts.
  • Defeat the Spirit of IPC Section 375: The purpose of IPC Section 375 is to protect women and punish those who indulge in the inhumane pastime of rape. However, exempting husbands from punishment is completely contradictory to that objective, because the outcomes of rape are the identical whether a lady is married or single. Moreover, married women can also additionally genuinely locate it extra hard to get away of abusive situations at home due to the fact they may be legally and financially tied to their husbands.
  • Violative of Article 21: According to innovative interpretation with the aid of using the Supreme Court, rights enshrined in Article 21 consist of the rights to health, privacy, dignity, secure living conditions, and secure environment, amongst others
  • In the State of Karnataka v. Krishnappa[2], the Supreme Court held that sexual violence other than being a dehumanizing act is an illegal intrusion of the right to privacy and sanctity of a female. In the identical judgment, it held that non-consensual sexual intercourse quantities to bodily and sexual violence.
  • In the Suchita Srivastava v. Chandigarh Administration[3], the Supreme Court equated the right to make choices associated with sexual interest with rights to non-public liberty, privacy, dignity, and physical integrity below Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • In Justice K.S. Puttuswamy (Retd.) v. Union of India[4], the Supreme Court, identified the right to privacy as an essential right of all citizens.
  • The right to privacy includes “decisions privacy pondered with the aid of using a capacity to make intimate choices more often than not together with one’s sexual or procreative nature and choices in appreciate of intimate relations.
  • In most of these decisions the Supreme Court has identified the right to abstain from sexual interest for all women, no matter their marital status, as an essential proper conferred with the aid of using Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • Therefore, compelled sexual cohabitation is a contravention of the essential right below article 21.


The Kerala High Court introduced a landmark judgment in advance that deemed marital rape to be a legitimate ground for divorce.

In the case at hand, in which the appellant compelled his unwell spouse to have sexual sex with him, the Division Bench “husband’s amoral frame of mind dismissing freedom of spouse is marital rape”. The bench held that whilst marital rape isn’t always penalized in India, it might now no longer deter the court from recognizing it as an act of cruelty and granting a divorce.

The bench surmise that there may be a want for the law to acclimate in a way in which human issues or problems are treated as a humane approach.

Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) classifies acts of infiltration sans informed approval as rape. However, it categorically mentions that sexual intercourse with one’s spouse who’s over the age of 15 will now no longer represent the offence of rape. The statutory age of consent became raised from 15 to 18 with the aid of using the Criminal Amendment Act of 2013[5].

In 2005-06, the National Family Health Survey observed out that among the 80,000 women that they’ve interviewed, ninety-three percentage stated that they were sexually abused through their present day or former husbands.

The National Family Health Survey of 2015-sixteen confirmed no development because the information estimates 99.1 percentage of sexual attack instances going unreported. A connection with the National Crime Records Bureau’s facts might gift that much less than one percentage of such incidents have been pronounced.

The Verma Committee, installation put up the Jyoti Singh (Nirbhaya) case to reinforce sexual assault laws, pronounced that the connection among the sufferer and the culprit are immaterial and consciousness have to entirely be maintained at the presence of consent.

Penalizing marital rape should always include amendments to the Hindu Marriage Act. According to Hindu beliefs, denying intercourse is going towards the tenets of a super Hindu spouse. It is likewise determined that denial of sexual sex is an as an alternative common ground for divorce. The Karnataka High Court held that denial of intercourse is a contravention of sections of the Hindu Marriage Act and therefore a great sufficient motive to are looking for divorce.

To quote the judgment, “The husband cannot be made to go through for no fault of his and be disadvantaged of his herbal urge to experience sexual happiness if the spouse is unwilling to percentage the mattress and discharge her duties.” When the shadow of patriarchy weighs so closely on our perception system, it becomes all the more difficult for girls to combat for their rights, even the ones as essential as physical autonomy.


Marital rape is no more considered an offence in India. Achievements in regard to marital rape in India are each non-existent or abstruse and established on the information through Courts. Section 375, the provision of rape within the Indian Penal Code (IPC), mentions as its exception clause- “Sexual intercourse through man with his own spouse, the spouse now no longer being under 15 years of age, isn’t rape.” As in line with phase 376 of IPC, which presents punishment for rape, the rapist should be rebuffed with detainment of both portrayal for a time period which won’t be under 7 years however as a substitute which may also stretch out to life or for a time period accomplishing out up to ten years and have to likewise be at risk to fine until the lady raped is his personal particular partner, and isn’t below 12 years old, wherein case, he is probably disregarded with confinement  of both depiction for a time period which may also attain out to two years with fine or with both.

Therefore, marital rape is only considered rape if the partner is under 15 years old and the punishment is milder. There is no agreed legal protection for the couple after the age of 15, which is contrary to human rights guidelines. A comparable regulation, that accommodates the lawful period of agree for marriage to be 18, shields from sexual mishandle simply the ones as much as the age of 15. According to the Indian Penal Code, the instances in which the partner may be criminally arraigned for an offence of marital rape are as under:

When the spouse is among 12 – 15 years of age, offence punishable with imprisonment upto 2 years or fine, or both;

When the partner is under 12 years old, offence culpable with detainment of both portrayal for a time period which won’t be under 7 years however as a substitute which may also attain out to life or for a time period stretching out up to ten years and have too likewise be subject to fine.

Rape of a judicially isolated partner, offence culpable with detainment upto 2 years and fine;

Rape of spouse of above 15 years in age isn’t punishable. In 2005, the 2005 Law on the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence was passed, which treats marital rape as a form of local violence. Under this law, a lady can go to court and obtain separation from her husband for marital rape. Marital rape is unreasonable: is a lady’s body raped, in addition to her affection and consider is damaged in this manner throwing her it is probably stated of anxiety and trepidation. Their human rights are being abandoned in the sacred place of marriage, but the legal guidelines for prosecuting the misadventures of rape in marriage are lacking and the form chosen is unacceptable.

The essential beginning of these “legal guidelines” is that following my guidelines is to commit to sexual activity. However, does consenting to sexual acts mean observing sexual pettiness? And instability, which leads to the woman submitting to sexual intercourse. It’s not like consenting to intercourse. For criminal law, the clarification between consent and rejection of the objection is important.

It is surprising that a woman can ensure her right to exist and freedom but not her body within her marriage. What kind of violation (Art. 375 IPC) should be changed exactly? The primary resource for women to date is Section 498A of the IPC, which addresses inflexibility to insure against “inappropriate sex directly from the spouse”. In any case, no measure or translation of “aberration” or “unnatural” in marital relationships is known to the courts. It is an unreasonable interest in sex, unreasonable? Isn’t consent an essential condition? Is Marriage Permission to Rape? There is no answer to that, because the judiciary and legislators are calm.


Right to privacy isn’t always referred to in the Indian Constitution. Nevertheless, in a chain of cases like Kharak Singh v. State of U. P[6].; Govind v. State of Madhya Pradesh[7], Neera Mathur v. LIC[8] etc. The Supreme Court anticipated that the right to privacy as such is guaranteed below the scope of Article 21. The Right of Privacy under Article 21 includes a right to be allowed to sit unbothered and now no longer be provoked. Any form of excessive sexual intercourse damages the right of protection, sexual security. It is supplied that the teaching of marital elimination to rape damages a wedded lady’s entitlement to safety with the aid of using her to enter a sexual relationship without trying to.


The privilege to consequential self-assurance can likewise go under the bounds of Article 21 regardless of the truth that the Constitution does now no longer explicitly do not forget it, this sort of accurate exists within the bigger system of the right to life and personal liberty. The concept of right of self-assurance relies upon at the confidence that the person is a categorical chief in topics carefully related with her/his body or accomplishment and the more private the choice, the greater efficient is the privilege of the person. It will be the main creators of his very own future which decides his reality. Sexual relationship is a standout among the maximum individual choice that a woman holds for herself. Decisions recognized with intercourse is a sort of self-expression and self-assurance. On the off threat that the regulation attempts to dispose of the privilege of speaking and repudiating such acknowledgment in reality denies a woman her protected right of actual self-assurance. In this way, it is provided that the marital exclusion precept effectively denies a wedded woman her entitlement to substantial to self-assurance and meddles in her maximum individual choice making.

The Supreme Court, in State of Maharashtra vs. Madhukar Narayan Mandikar[9] has implied to at least one facet of safety over one’s body. What is tragic right here is to look at how the court has advantageously placed spouse out and has but not given her safety over her very own body, whilst women who’ve been subjected to rape by a stranger have that perfectly fine is criminalized but not marital rape. For this case, it turned into chosen that a prostitute has the right to disclaim intercourse at the off risk that she was unwilling.

In Sree Kumar vs. Pearly Karun[10], the Kerala High Court watched that the offence below Section 376A, IPC may not be pulled in because the partner isn’t always residing independently of her husband under an announcement of partition or beneath any custom or use, no matter the opportunity that she is prone to intercourse with the aid of using her better half without trying to and without her assent. For this situation, the partner was subjected to intercourse without her will through her husband while she went to stay respectively together along with her husband for two days as end result of agreement of separation procedures which was going in advance among the 2 parties. Subsequently, the partner was held not responsible for raping his spouse, but he had accomplished as such.

The judiciary seems to have completely relegated to its benefit rape inside marriage is absurd, or that the shame of attack of a woman may be rescued through getting her hitched to the attacker.


  • Family Pressure: According to Hindu law, marriage is a ritual, that’s as soon as tied can by no means be damaged because of any purpose. The major purpose at the back of this kind of dating is to carry out spiritual obligations and to create family. Therefore, marriage is obligatory and greater within the case of females. While in Muslim law, marriage is a social concept, and the principal goal is to produce children. Therefore, Muslim Law actually says that marriage is a style of enjoyable the sexual dreams of men whether women need it or not.
  • Economic Dependence: Economic dependence of women over her husband and in-legal guidelines is likewise one because that encourages marital rape due to the fact earlier, women have been not meant to move out in their house. Although this mind-set is converting slowly, however it nonetheless exists in lots of families, and due to this, women can’t defend themselves from the sort of wrongful activity.
  • Lack of Laws: It isn’t always honestly noted that marital rape is a criminal action in Indian laws. Simultaneously, the exception to section 375 of IPC makes it pretty clean that a husband acting sexual acts together along with his spouse above the age of 15 years will now no longer be protected under the definition of rape.
  • Social Strain: Lack of legal guidelines and the fear of social photograph is one of the predominant motives which ends up in the act of marital rape and continues to be hidden behind the sacred courting of marriage. Women have the right to guard the privacy of their bodies from a stranger. Still, whilst the assassin of physical accidents and bodily ache is her personal husband, such safety is taken away from her through the legislators.


Section 376(B) of IPC: Section 376 (B) offers punishment to a husband who’s residing separately, whether under the decree of divorce or some other reason, has forceful sexual intercourse together along with his spouse is punished with imprisonment of no longer much less than years which can also additionally amplify to seven years.

In Domestic Violence Act, 2005: Domestic Violence Act, 2005 offers legal safety to a female going through home violence. However, it does now no longer consider marital rape as a crime, however still, if a female is victimized of marital rape, then she will be able to approach the court and ask for judicial separation.


Marital rape is absolutely not criminalized in India; it is truly a type of wrongdoing towards women, and it deserves government attention. In this precise circumstance, marital rape is substantially greater horrendous for a lady when you consider that she wishes to stay together along with her aggressor ordinary. Given that the consequences of marital rape are definitely high, it is clear that criminalizing the crime of marital rape may be urgently needed. Positive valid change for women by huge and massive is going on in India, but moreover steps are essential in order that each lawful and social change happens, which could end in criminalizing marital rape and converting the mind-set approximately women in marriage. There are many loopholes in the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, because the Act does now no longer straightforwardly communicate towards marital rape. At best, the passage of a select law against domestic abusive behavior has opened the door to a law that criminalizes marital rape. This clearly shows that they are circulating in the state mindset that previously placed family actions on non-intercession.

Indian law today grants husbands and wives separate and independent legal identities, and much of modern jurisprudence is explicitly concerned with the protection of women, the scope of the anti-rape laws by deleting Section 375 (exception 2) of the IPC.

[1] National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), India, available at:

[2] Karnataka v. Krishnappa, ILR 1994 KAR 89, 1993 (4) KarLJ 680

[3] Suchita Srivastava v. Chandigarh Administration, CIVIL APPEAL NO.5845 OF 200 (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 17985 of 2009)
[4] K.S. Puttuswamy (Retd.) v. Union of India, writ petition (civil) no 494 of 2012


[6] Kharak Singh v. State of U.P, 1963 AIR 1295, 1964 SCR (1) 332

[7] Govind v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 1975 AIR 1378 1975 SCR (3) 946 1975 SCC (2) 148

[8] Neera Mathur v. LIC, 1992 AIR 392, 1991 SCR Supl. (2) 146

[9] Maharashtra vs. Madhukar Narayan Mandikar, AIR 1991 SC 207, 1991 (61) FLR 688, JT 1990 (4) SC 169, (1991) IILLJ 269 SC, 1990 (2) SCALE 849, (1991) 1 SCC 57, 1991 (1) UJ 109 SC

[10] SreeKuma vs. Pearly Karun, 1999 (2) ALT Cri 77, II (1999) DMC 174


Editor: Kanishka VaishSenior Editor, LexLife India.Advertisements

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