Indian government to criminalise marital rape with ‘comprehensive law’

In the UK, rape within marriage became a crime in 1991

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The Independent Online

The Indian government has announced that it will put forward "comprehensive" legislation to criminalise marital rape.

The minister of state for home affairs, Kiran Rijiju, laid out the government’s plans during a debate in the upper house of the Indian parliament, the Rajya Sabha.

He stated the government will propose an amendment to the Indian Penal Code (IPC) after they have received reports from both the Law Commission and a parliamentary standing committee, according to the Times of India.

Speaking in the chamber, Mr Rijiju told the Rajya Sabha: “To move piecemeal is not right. We have asked for comprehensive review and Law Commission also took up the matter.

“We are waiting for appropriate suggestions from the Law Commission, and, the Parliamentary Standing Committee Report also has been mentioned during my reply.  So, it is the fittest thing for us to wait for the Committee Report.”

But for some, change to the law was already overdue and should not be postponed any longer while ministers wait for further reports. 

The deputy chairman of the Rajya Sabha, P J Kurien, said: "If you think that rape by a husband is a crime, then, why should the government wait for the report?

“Rape is a crime, you accept it; whether it is rape by a husband or any other person, it is equally a crime.

“You are tending to say that. But then, in that case, why do you wait for the report? That is the question."

The campaign for criminalising sexual assault in India has faced opposition from men’s rights activists and traditionalists who see the proposition as an attempt to undermine the legal provisions for "vulnerable men".

Earlier this year, before a summit to promote "gender neutral laws", a spokesman for Save Family Foundation, Ritwik Bisaria told the Guardian: “The meeting will evolve a strategy of protecting vulnerable men who are facing undue harassment due to the present pro-women legal provisions.

“We plan to push for a private member’s bill in parliament to ensure that laws are not biased against men … Often, rape and dowry laws are used against men.”

Marital rape became illegal in the UK in 1991 and was criminalised in all 50 US states by 1993.