The Legality of Marital Rape in India Explained


Why is India not one of the 150 countries that legalized marital rape? Can Indian men legally rape their wives? Does marriage give license to rape in India? Does all rape is same? Why doesn’t Indian law apply when a man raped his wife?


  •  Still India not considering marital rape 
  •  Martial rape in India, Is a crime or not? 

Rape is one of the fourth top crimes against women in India. Rape is unlawful sex without the person’s consent to drive sexual pleasure. As per the Indian Penal Code, it mentioned in sections 375 and 376 considered rape as a criminal offence. But shockingly, marital rape is unequivocally avoided from the ambit of conviction.

Historically, sexual intercourse within marriage is a right of spouses, and even the act was without the spouse’s consent. Whereas today in the 21st century and globalizing World were, consent means a lot. When a spouse forces or compel the other half to be a part of sexual intercourse without consent is term Marital Rape.

F.H. Batacan once said,

“Her friends used to tell her it was not raped if the man was your husband. She didn’t say anything, but inside she seethed; she wanted to take a knife to their faces”.

The question is still the same: will sexual intercourse between a married couple without the other spouse’s consent be considered rape or not?

Though we were not living in the 16th century, Marital rape is not considered an offence in India. Looking globally, many countries have criminalized marital rape since the late 20th century. Sadly, India is not the only country still unclear about marital rape.

Marital rape

Marital rape is a chronic form of violence for the victim and occurs within Abusive relations. It certainly is a type of wrongdoing against ladies and deserving of government’s consideration. Women whose spouses rape are more inclined to various attacks.

They are frequently enduring long haul physical and enthusiastic issues. Marital rapes are genuinely high, and there is a dire requirement for the criminalization of the offence of marital rape.

The Legality of Marital Rape in India Explained
Image Source: law_trent

In India, there are enactments in regards to marital rape. They are either non-existent or esoteric and dependent on the understanding by Courts.

What article 375 says about marital rape

The provision of rape in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) under section 375,

“Sexual intercourse by a man with his wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape.”

Section 376 of IPC provides punishment for rape.

Marital rape is viewed as an ordinary rape if the spouse is under 15 years old. Surprisingly, you won’t find any lawful security agreed to the spouse after 15, though it is against human rights directions. Thankfully, In India, High Courts have often differed on the legality of marital rape.

The Kerala High Court stated that

“marital rape though not recognized under the penal code, could still be considered grounds for divorce as a form of cruelty”.

Further noted,

“Treating wife’s body as something owing to husband and committing a sexual act against her will is nothing but marital rape. Right to respect for their physical and mental integrity encompasses bodily integrity, and any disrespect or violation of bodily integrity is a violation of individual autonomy.”

The Delhi High Court is hearing a challenge to the constitutional validity of the ‘marital rape immunity provided for in the Indian Penal Code. The case has spotlighted crucial issues concerning consent, the extent of state control on female sexual autonomy, and correcting historical prejudices in law.

Statistics of rape  

  • According to NCRB [National Crime Records Bureau’s], in 2019, every 16 minutes, a woman is raped.
  • UN Population Fund’s study stated that between 15 to 49 years, more than two-thirds of women in India have been beaten, raped or forced to provide sex.
  • National Family Health Survey (NFHS)  in 2015-16 showed no improvement as the data estimated 99.1 per cent of sexual assault cases going unreported. The data stated that an estimated 99.1 per cent of sexual violence cases go unreported. Most people continue to regard “marital rape” with disbelief despite the data. The average Indian woman is 17 times more likely to face sexual violence from her husband than from others.

Edited by- Subbuthai Padma

Published by- Satheesh Kumar

Vanshika Sahu
Vanshika Sahu
I am pursuing my BA.LLB. I believe I am qualified for the role of Research, Content Writing, and Analysis. My work inspires me because I am ambitious, devoted, and enthusiastic about it. I’d want to take on tasks that will help me improve my skills. Right now, I’m taking advantage of any chance to acquire new abilities and succeed at them. I am committed to investigating numerous legal disciplines that may assist me in developing my profession. I love to talk about matters which are ignored by society. Mental health is one of those issues; speaking about the same has become more important today than any other day.



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