April 17, 2024

Marital rape continues to be an apparent stain in the broad mosaic of Indian society, though it often goes unnoticed by societal taboos and complex legal problems. International agreements have recognized marital rape as a type of violence against women, but India continues to be slow to officially recognize and prosecute it. In addition to damaging women’s rights, this protracted process traps marriages in a cycle of injustice, despair, and confidentiality.

marital rape definition

  • As per marital rape meaning, it is the term used to describe situations in which a woman is coerced into having sex after marriage against her choice and without her consent. It is defined as one partner forcing the other partner to engage in sexual activity.
  • The marital rape section is Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code.

Marital Rape in India: Law and Punishment

According to Section 375 of the IPC, 1860, a man is considered to have committed rape if he manipulates any portion of a woman’s body in any situation or penetrates her penis or puts, to any extent, any object or part of the body, other than the penis, into her intimate area:       

  • against her will;
  • without her consent;
  • with her consent when it is gained by making her fear harm or death; when it is obtained when she is drunk or mentally ill;
  • when she thinks she is legally married to that person but he is not her spouse;
  • when she is younger than eighteen or incapable of communicating the consent.

This section contains two exceptions. The second exception is that a man is not considered to have committed rape if he does not have sexual relations with his wife who is not younger than 15 years old.

Furthermore, Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 outlines the penalties for rape. A person found guilty of rape faces a harsh sentence that can last up to life in prison as well as a fine. Due to the IPC’s lack of definition of marital rape, some women still face discrimination.

Sexual Violence in Marriage: IPC Laws in Favor of Women

  • Section 509 IPC: According to this provision, insulting a woman’s modesty through any act or behaviour is punished by a three-year sentence of simple imprisonment and an obligatory fine.
  • Section 354 IPC: The provision stipulates that assaults or uses of illegal force against women with the intent to offend their modesty, or with knowledge (realization) that such actions are likely to cause offense to a woman’s modesty, are punishable by up to two years in prison, a fine, or both.

Impact of Marital Rape on Mental Health

  • When a girl is repeatedly raped by her own husband, the grief she feels is indescribable.
  • The short-term psychological repercussions include shock, fear, post-traumatic stress disorder, suicidal thoughts, and other symptoms that are far worse than the physical ones.
  • Among the long-term effects are eating disorders, depression, and dysfunctional sexual relationships.
  • One could argue that marital rape is a form of violence in and of itself. Harsh and cruel domination includes but is not limited to, physical violence, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, social abuse, financial abuse, and the abuse of masculine privilege.
  • After experiencing such abuse, wives may doubt their own value or sanity and develop low self-esteem.

marital rape cases

  • In the case of State of Karnataka v Krishnappa, the Supreme Court ruled that, in addition to being a demeaning act, sexual violence violates a woman’s right to privacy and her sanctity. It was decided in the same ruling that non-consensual sexual activity is equivalent to both physical and sexual abuse.
  • In the case of Justice K.S. Puttuswamy (Retd.) v Union of India, the Supreme Court declared that everyone has the fundamental right to privacy. One facet of the right to privacy that is protected is decisional privacy, which is expressed in the capacity to make intimate decisions about one’s sexual or procreative nature as well as decisions about intimate partnerships.

Legal Reform for Marital Rape

  • The Delhi High Court rendered a divided decision in May 2022 about the country’s criminalization of marital rape.
  • The current statute was declared illegal by Judge Rajiv Shakdher, who stated that a woman’s right to life and liberty is fundamentally based on her ability to revoke her permission.

Spousal Rights and Consent have changed in tandem with societal shifts and evolving views on gender roles and marriage. Healthy relationships require fostering a culture of consent, respect, as well as communication within marriages. Education and awareness are essential. Merely amending the legislation has no effect. But enacting laws is also necessary to alter society. Such preconditions must exist before marital rape is made a crime.

Marital Rape in India FAQs

  1. Can 376 be filed against husband?

According to the revised definition, permission is irrelevant if the perpetrator and the victim are a husband and wife, and no offense under section 375 is established. As a result, there is no penalty under section 376 of the IPC.

  • Is marital rape a crime in India?

However, spouses are exempt from the rape. According to Indian Penal Code Section 375 Exception 2, “Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife is not rape.”

  • What is the punishment for rape in India?

Anybody found guilty of rape, unless their crime falls under one of the exceptions listed in sub-section (2), faces a minimum sentence of 10 years in jail, a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, and a fine.

  • What is the punishment for rape in Islam?

Punishments include death by stoning, limb amputation, lashing, jail time, and fines. Proof of the harsher punishments requires the rapist’s confession or the evidence of four adult male Muslims, but these requirements are so stringent that no rapist has ever received such a severe punishment.

  • Is bail possible in 376?

Bail for serious offenses may be granted after taking into account the nature of the allegations and the delay in filing the FIR. Bail – Offence according to Section 376 IPC – Applicant granted bail due to the charges’ nature and the delay in filing the FIR

  • Can we withdraw a case under 376?

It is illegal to withdraw a case brought under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The IPC’s Sections 375 and 376 address rape offenses and their associated penalties. Protecting women’s bodily integrity and dignity is the primary goal of making rape a crime.

  • How do you prove 376?

Under Section 376, the medical officer is required to submit a report establishing the offense, and the relevant Investigation Officer will gather circumstantial evidence. It is relatively simple to prove rape in court. If the accused is free on bond, make a motion to revoke the release on specific reasons.

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