Men’s Group Supports Plea Against Marital Rape; Delhi HC Allows Impleadment

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Displaying solidarity against marital rape, a men’s group has submitted its application in support of the Petitioners before the Delhi High Court, in the quest for criminalization of marital rape. They have been impeded in the case.

The Forum to Engage Men (FEM) contends that setting aside the exception to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code would amount to “broadcasting a message to the married men of India that coercive sex with their married women is a criminal act”.

“This will put a new norm, and behave as a check.Such an ordination by this Court will have the potential to gain tens of millions of adult females in India, who are otherwise at the peril of sexual violence and rape by their husbands and partners every day” application added.

FEM’s application relied on the prevailing statistics, to re-establish the fact that the “process of socialization of men happens in such a way the men feel that they are entitled to have sex with adult females at their will.”

“The Forum to Engage Men (FEM) seeks to embed ourselves in the present petition brought by the RIT Foundation, as we care for our wives and the wives of all Indian men, not to be slimmed down to legal objects incapable of sexual will, and with no legal ability for sexual expression.Indeed, we stand with married and all women for effective decision-making over their reproduction,” it therefore contended, proposing that a charge of marital rape be accepted only when caused by the victim, in parliamentary procedure to prevent misutilization of the preparation.

The Application has been lodged in a Petition by the RTI Foundation, with the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) and a marital rape victim joined as Petitioners, submitting arguments as intervener.Another intervener, Mr. Abdullah Khan, whose wife has alleged rape and unnatural sex in a complaint against him, has claimed immunity, arguing that the amendments in criminal law override Section 377 (unnatural sex) in case of married couples.

During the hearing on Thursday, the Petitioners relied on the recent Supreme Court judgment declaring the right to privacy as a Fundamental Right. Senior Counsel, Mr. Colin Gonsalves underlined the portions of the judicial decision dealing with the value of physical integrity, sexual autonomy, and reproductive choice. Mr. Gonsalves, however, clarified that the husband cannot claim rights to privacy to justify raping his wife. Ms. Karuna Nundy, Advocate for RIT and AIDWA made brief submissions on the Protection Against Domestic Violence Act, the fact that it is the civil remedy for rape by husbands and flies in the typeface of the government’s submissions.Ms. Nundy also placed before the court Section 26, which explicitly preserves criminal remedies for the civil infractions under the Domestic Violence Act, where such remedies are available.

Report By: Manavi Josh

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