Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday said consent is an “underrated” concept in Indian society but it should be foregrounded to ensure safety of women.
His comments come in the midst of a debate that calls for criminalising marital rape.
Earlier in the week, while hearing a bunch of petitions, the Delhi High Court questioned the exemptions given to marital rape.
Last Tuesday, a bench of Justices Rajiv Shakdher and C. Hari Shankar asked “if a married woman loses the right to say ‘no’ and if 50 countries that have made marital rape an offence have got it wrong”.
“Consent is amongst the most underrated concepts in our society. It has to be foregrounded to ensure safety for women. # MaritalRape,” Mr. Gandhi said on Twitter, weighing on the side of the debate that seeks to outlaw marital rape.
Section 375 of the IPC defines rape as all forms of sexual assault involving non-consensual intercourse with a woman.
However, Exception 2 to S. 375 exempts unwilling sexual intercourse between a husband and a wife who is over 15 years of age from the definition of “rape” and gives immunity to the husband from prosecution.
The law presumes that a wife gives perpetual consent to the husband for sexual intercourse after getting married.
While activists have argued that such an exemption violates the right to equality for married women, the counter argument has been that criminalisation can be “misused” to settle scores.