Centre: Marital rape law protects hubby-wife privacy

  • Supporting the current law that decriminalises marital rape, the Centre in an affidavit before the Delhi high court has said it protects "private affairs of husband and wife based on traditional social structure".

    Explaining why section 375(2) of IPC also protects a husband who has sex with his 15-year-old wife, the Centre argued, "Although the age of consent is 18 years, the social, economic and educational development in the country is still uneven and child marriages are taking place".

    The affidavit pointed out that prohibition of marital rape must also be accompanied by "changes in the attitude of the prosecutors, and those in society".

    The Centre was responding to a PIL which claimed that an "inconsistency" has crept in through the amended rape law which protects a husband from prosecution even for the offence of unnatural sex with his wife.

    Section 377 criminalises unnatural sexual activity between any two individuals, irrespective of marital status. The petition claimed the existing law was not certain as the act of sexual offence, which is punishable under section 377 of IPC, was non-penal under section 375, if committed by the husband.

    The petition was filed by a man facing trial upon the complaint by his 20-year-old wife who accused him of forcing her into having unnatural sex. The petitioner said the unsettled position of law infringes upon his rights.


    A marital rape occurs when a man has intercourse with his wife either by force, threat of force, or when the wife is unable to consent. And just as domestic violence has been made punishable by law, so should domestic sexual abuse, because rape is rape, regardless of whether it is committed by her husband or a stranger.Although private affairs of a husband and wife are important and should not be encroached upon, but what about the consent of a women?

    A women should have liberty over her own body, sexuality and reproductive organs.Refusing to criminalise marital rape is to accept sexual coercion against her, so long as it is within a marriage, will be endorsed by both government and society.

    Visit the Indian Kanoon section of LawRato to learn more on Indian Laws.

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