Marital rape: A hidden crime

Last Updated 23 July 2010, 16:41 IST

On the very first night, following her wedding, it seems, her husband forced himself upon her, much against her wishes. When she tried screaming, her mouth was gagged and she was sexually assaulted. Thereafter, this nonconsensual sex had become a regular feature in her everyday life, triggering untold traumas and turbulent moments. Yet, she hadn’t been able to extricate herself from the relationship, due to various reasons.

This telly show indeed had spawned ambivalent views among few of my friends. Displaying displeasure over the deplorable attitude of such domineering men, a friend declared, “I’d rather opt out of such odious relationship. Certainly I can never put up with these chauvinistic creatures, demanding their conjugal rights on connubial bed, under the cover of socially sanctioned sex. In such scenario, one should have surfeit spunk to stand up for oneself. The more timorous you are, the more trampled you get!”

Family’s honour
The other friend interjected saying, “I rather commiserate with such females, who perhaps have their own constraints in holding on to an abusive marriage. Many females don’t like inviting ignominy and maligning their family’s honour, by exposing strained relationship with their spouse. Why wash dirty linen in public? So, these females willy-nilly become party to prurient behaviour of their ‘patidevs,’ to prevent their marriage from dissolving”.

Little wonder then, along with the unlettered lot, there are umpteen educated women too, who have turned prey to marital rape. Owing to somewhat intangible nature of this ‘bedroom violence’, world around too tend to remain oblivious to this hidden crime. Since the society expects a woman’s sexual submission in maintaining the marital harmony, apparently the woman’s sexuality gets seen as her wifely duty and the man’s sexuality, as his prerogative. In this lop-sided power relationship, a woman’s desires get fully subjugated by her man’s power.

It’s believed, “the total amount of undesired sex, endured by women, is greater in marriage than in prostitution”!

Neeta Sudhakar, a family counsellor said, “There are women, who’re victims of marital sexual violence, and undergo mental turmoil and tumults. Some are physically assaulted too, due to coercive mode of sex, adopted by their spouses. They have nicks, lacerations, bruises and even cigarette burns on their bodies. As fallout of horrendous marital sexual experiences, some women sink in severe depression, inscrutable fright, disillusionment towards marital life, besides having their mental equilibrium unhinged.”

Interestingly, even while being embroiled in a violent marital relationship, still many women prefer to hang on, not wanting to disentangle from it. Why are they giving themselves this Hobson’s choice? The reasons are indeed varied. One is that, for many women, ‘marital sex’ isn’t just an instinctive drive, but it’s equated with emotional bonding. In the contortions of male and female sexuality, they start nurturing notions of being desired and loved by their men. It seems, “women barter away sex for love; and men trade love for sex”!

And, there’s another set of women, who dread jeopardising the future of their offspring, and hence condone their men’s sexual transgressions. Not to discount, there are few other women too, who perceive the post-divorce phase to be more painful, after the permanent blight on their family’s honour.

Finally, does it mean there is no way out for these women, mired in morass of marital violence? Well, there’re several counselling cells, shelter homes, NGOs, etc, working towards women’s welfare. So, one can seek the support of one of them. Or, even rope in the help of a close relative/friend.

(Published 23 July 2010, 16:41 IST)

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