1. The demand for criminalizing marital rape has come from various social quarters, notably women activists. It is often argued however, that the institution of marriage is so sacred and sacrosanct to the Indian society that the decision to criminalize marital rape can be counterproductive and it won’t make much of a difference. What do you think? Discuss.
In recent years sexual violence has been a matter of serious debate and controversy everywhere in the world including India. However, one aspect of this problem, marital rape, remained untouched. This has revived the debate about whether the marital rape should be criminalized and made a punishable offence or should the status quo continue.
ARGUMENTS FOR CRIMINALIZING MARITAL RAPE:
According to the latest National Family Health Survey, husbands commit the majority of the acts of sexual violence in India. Out of the total number of rapes reported to NFHS, 97.7% were committed by spouses of the victim.
The Justice JS Verma committee while dealing the criminal law amendment act has also suggested that marital rape be made a non bailable offence.
Many women activists like Smt. Ranjana Kumari, Mrs.Barkha Singh (DCW) say that sexual consent is the right of every woman – married or unmarried – as much as of men, and nonconsensual sex should be treated exactly the same, regardless of the relationship of the perpetrator to the victim.
Marital rape is also considered as the violation of Fundamental Right guaranteed under Article 14 of the Indian constitution which guarantees the equal protection of laws to all persons.
By depriving married women of an effective penal remedy against forced sexual intercourse, it violates their right to privacy and bodily integrity, aspects of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21.
The United Nations has also recommended India make it criminal for a man to rape his wife.
The law commission in its 172nd report following the SC directives in Sakshi Vs Unionof India (2004) said that forceful sex without wife’s consent is an offence just as any physical violence and should be punished.
Many countries have made it a crime for a husband to force his wife to have sex in recent years. Malaysia changed its laws to that effect in 2007; Turkey in 2005; and Bolivia in 2013. The United States began criminalizing marital rape in 1970s and most European countries in the 1990s.
ARGUMENTS AGAINST CRIMINALIZING MARITAL RAPE:
Proponents of the marital rape exception, however, argue that it is essential to preserve the integrity of marriage, which is a crucial social institution.
It is also argued that marital privacy requires that the State refrain from interfering with whatever takes place within the home and the entire purpose of securing a right to privacy would be defeated if sexual intercourse within marriage could be made the subject of legal proceedings.
Marital rape is not defined in the IPC
Many also fear just like Section 498A there are chances of gross misuse and can be used as a weapon instead of a shield by the woman.
The government in a written reply in the parliament espoused its opinion that “The concept of marital rape as understood internationally cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors like level of education/illiteracy, poverty, myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs [and the] mindset of the society“
Judicial reforms along with change in societal mindset (patriarchal) are necessary to deal effectively with such matters. It needs to be noted that marital privacy which justifies laws such as the marital rape exception is a fundamental denial of society’s commitment to treating all persons with equal concern and respect.
2. The recent decision by the state of Bihar to ban alcohol is a well intentioned move, however, past experiences have shown that prohibition can’t curb the problem of alcoholism. In fact banning alcohol creates even more serious socio-economic problems. What is your view on this issue? Discuss.
Indian constitution states the need for complete ban on intoxicants, citing this Bihar has recently banned sale of Liquor like Gujarat and Nagaland. The ban which is well intentioned can be a failure due to various reasons which past experiences have already proved.
Reason why prohibition can’t curb alcoholism:
Smuggling: Through smuggling it is available.
Arrack: House made and local made arrack will fill the gap.
Border trade: Available in Border States.
Lax on enforcement: Officials and representative are involved in such habits.
Deaths: By drinking spurious liquors.
Addiction: Drug addiction will increase.
Unemployment: of people involved in this business.
State revenue: Liquor contribution is more than half of its total budget.
Tourism: Loss due to lack of footfall.
Rehabilitation: Proper rehab centers should be opened.
Withdrawal symptoms: People should be counselled and enough steps at local level to handle withdrawal symptoms.
Step wise ban: Rather than one time ban, slow banning like in stages will work efficiently.
Government can indulge in some appeasement for good like monetary benefits, recognition in village level panchayats etc. where they are encouraged to quit. Severe punishment for local arrack producers and monetary gifts for information providers can go a long way in implementation.
3. Real empowerment of women lies in ensuring their economic liberty. Do you agree? Substantiate.
Economic liberty implies the freedom to make economic decisions like setting up industry, selling/purchasing land etc. According to UNDP report, the human development index of India falls by 29% when adjusted for gender inequalities.
How economic empowerment is real empowerment?
Economic liberty can be a substantial way out for women:
It decreases the dependence on men and gives the confidence to raise voice against their opression
Improved social indicators: In countries like Kenya and Bangladesh many case studies noted that economic empowerment of women led to decrease in maternal mortality rates, increased literacy, improved health.
In India too, surveys have shown that economic empowerment of women due to SHGs has led to increase in respect and decrease in domestic abuse against them.
Economic liberty of women ensures higher savings and investment in health,education of their children.
Converting women from landless laborers to landholders in rural areas would lead to higher participation in activities of gram sabha and higher productivity of agriculture
Economic liberty is not enough. It has to be coupled with social and behavioral change as even women in highest posts are discriminated due to the pay gap. Further, economic liberty cannot guarantee security.
Ensuring economic empowerment:
Economic liberty needs to be supported with adequate maternity, creches at work place, child support centers etc.
The corporate glass ceiling which discourages in higher management roles for women needs to be broken.
The Gender Wage gap needs to be removed. Women earn as low as 63% lower as compared to men in Bihar.
Safety of women in public and house needs to be ensured through efficient policing and judicial system.
Resources like land, houses in the name of women as being done under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.
Providing land ownership rights to women especially female farmers.
Effective implementation of Maternity benefits Act and MUDRA scheme.
The economic supression of women in India is not new. Almost 40% of women are out of the labour force in India, according to ILO. The gradual change towards their economic freedom will guarantee their incorporation in the mainstream economy benefitting the nation. The economic empowerment of women has direct repercussion of the growth of the family and helps in progress of the society as a whole.
According to UNDP report,the human development index of india falls by 29% when adjusted for gender inequalities.This together with child marriages,domestic abuse,rape and sexual harassment underline the discrimination,deprivation and disadvantage that women face in the country.
economic liberty can be a substantial way out for women:
1.it decreases the dependence on men and gives the confidence to raise voice against their opression 2. in countries like Kenya and Bangladesh many case studies noted that economic empowerment of women led to decrease in maternal mortality rates,increased literacy,improved health
3. survey conducted by yojna states that economic empowerment of women due to SHGs has led to increase in respect and decrease in domestic abuse against them
4.Economic liberty of women ensures higher savings and investment in health,education of their children.Thus it ensures brighter future for a girl child too
5.converting women from landless laborers to landholders in rural areas lead to higher participation in activities of gram sabha and higher productivity of agriculture
but economic liberty is not enough.It has to be coupled with social and behavioral change:
1.even women in highest posts are discriminated due to the pay gap
2.economic liberty cannot guarantee security : nirbhaya case,banglore mass molestation case
3.economic liberty needs to be supported with adequate maternity as well ass paternity leaves,secure transport services,creches at work places,child support centers by state to sustain this liberty.
Thus inclusive socio-economic development with respect for dignity of women (as suggested by fundamental duties,art 51A) needs to be undertaken. Education and collaboration with NGOs can go a long way in the matter.
4. The decision by the apex court of India to declare Triple Talaq as unconstitutional addresses a grave problem. However, it is not certain whether the judicial pronouncement will have meaningful effect on the ground reality. Critically comment.
Talaq -e- biddat is the irrevocable practice where a Muslim man can divorce his wife by pronouncing the “talaq” at a single time with no time for reconciliation.Though not in Quran it is protected by Sharia (Muslim personal law ) Act 1937 framed in pre constitution era.
In a judgment coming after long time, the Supreme Court in Shayara Bano vs Union of India Case has declared the practice of Triple Talaq as unconstitutional by giving following arguments,
This practice is not supported by Quran and a law that is sinful cannot be given constitutional protection.• It is in violation of Muslim women’s rights and is against article 14 of the constitution.
This is a landmark step for gender equality as,
It provides a ground for women to challenge unilateral divorce by their husbands. Earlier women used to be left in the lurch without any legal recourse.
It gives Muslim women equal footing in their marriage. Earlier, some women had to deal with the whims of their husbands merely to avoid getting divorced.
It not only undermined equality before law, but also smothered gender justice.
So, the judgment was long overdue, as many women organizations have been demanding it for long. But, to what extent the judicial pronouncement will have effect at ground level is of question, because
There was severe opposition from the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on judicial intervention in the matters of personal law and faith. After this judgment it is important how widely it is accepted and incorporated.
Women from the marginalized sections of the Muslim community are still not aware and empowered enough to challenge their husbands if they go for Triple Talaq.
Court dealt with Issue of Instant talaq only, other important issues of Nikah-e-halala and polygamy also need to be addressed.
Modalities of implantation of this judgment is not clear, responsibility of legislature to come up with suitable legislation within six months is a challenge.
Thus there is still some work left to be done in sensitizing both men and women of the community to stand up against the practice. Moreover, this is just one step in our battle to ensure that conservative elements don’t deny women their rights in the name of personal laws. Next steps should be bringing more reforms in personal laws through consensus and to bringing a Uniform Civil Code after wider consultation and negotiation.
5. The latest shift in USA’s strategy for Pakistan and Afghanistan is a golden opportunity for India to capitalise. Do you agree? Critically analyse.
New opportunities for India, as India can –
Isolate Pak and expose Terror organisation on international stage.
build closer ties with USA will also give more pitch to Indian voice for demanding a permanent seat in UNSC.
Stronger ties with USA will mean, more access to nuclear technology, modern weapons and political influence on world stage and an ally to counter the Chinese advances and hostile assertion.
India’s active role in Afghan will do well for energy security with projects like TAPI, give her a second front from Afghan side in case of combat with Pak and make her geopolitically important player.
Hurdles or challenges:
Afghan already urges more role of India. So nothing new in US demanding the same.
More economic resources to be poured in by India, which already runs on strained budgets and fiscal deficits
Demands of ‘Boots on the ground’ need more political will and proper strategy to achieve the objectives to be accomplished.
The current America is ‘isolation-ist’, she is only considering her interests like on issues of H1B visas, jobs to Americans etc. So, India must weight her options.
A closer tie with USA will mean taking the opposite camp against old friend like Russia, and it may make China more hostile.