“Will have a negative impact on women; will encourage and perpetuate marital rape”

The National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) on Tuesday expressed concern over a Delhi court’s verdict to the effect that forced sex in marriage is not rape and termed the verdict “manifestation of patriarchal mindset”.

In a statement issued by the NFIW, its general secretary Annie Raja said: “This verdict will have a very negative impact on women, especially married women. This will encourage and perpetuate the alarmingly increasing menace of marital rape.”

“The verdict and position of the court that sex between husband and wife “even if forced, is not rape” is nothing but the manifestation of the patriarchal mindset which always stands in the way of gender equality,” said NFIW, which is the women’s wing of Communist Party of India.

It said: “When the entire women’s movement and the people who believe in the importance of gender equality are campaigning and agitating to make marital rape a crime, the NFIW consider that this verdict of the Delhi court is highly retrograde.”

Recently while acquitting a man charged of raping his wife, Additional Sessions Judge Virender Bhatt, who presides over the fast track court for trying cases of sexual offences against women, had said: “The parties being husband and wife, the sexual intercourse between the two does not come within the ambit of the offence of rape, even if the same was against the will and consent of the victim.”

The woman had claimed that the accused named Vikash sedated her and took her to the office of the registrar of marriages in Ghaziabad in an intoxicated state. He got the marriage documents signed by her on March 4, 2013. Later, Vikash raped her and then abandoned her. The woman had filed a complaint at the Baba Haridas Nagar police station in the South-West Delhi in October 2013.

The court, however, said in its order dated May 7: “Thus, the prosecutrix (the wife) and the accused (Vikash) being legally wedded husband and wife, and the prosecutrix being major, the sexual intercourse between the two, even if forcible, is not rape and no culpability can be fastened upon the accused.”

It also said there was no evidence that the accused had administered any intoxicating substance to her.

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