At a time when the debate over the criminalisation of marital rape is still hot, the National Family Health Survey-5 (2019-21) has revealed that a large section of men believe a woman refusing sex to her husband is justified if she’s had a long day.
While 80 per cent of women participants believe refusing sex to their husband is justified for any or all of these three reasons
- If he has a sexually transmitted disease
- He has sex with other women
- Because she is tired/not in the mood.
As many as 66 per cent of Indian men agree. However, 8 per cent of women and 10 per cent of men do not agree that a wife can refuse sex to her husband for any of these reasons.
The section on “attitudes towards negotiating safer sexual relations with husband” of Chapter 14 “Women’s empowerment” in the survey focuses on the issue of “consent” as an enabling factor in gender equality.
The age of the participants of the survey ranged from 15-49 years for both men and women.
The per cent of adults who agree that women have a right to refuse sex to their husbands for all three specified reasons has increased by 12 per cent for women and only 3 per cent for men from the NFHS-4 (2015-16).
In the present time of the “woke” culture, the survey has revealed that not only 44 per cent of men, but also 45 per cent of women believe that it is justified for a husband to beat up his wife under different circumstances.
Meanwhile, Karnataka High Court, in a historic judgement on marital rape in March, had said that marriage is no license to “provide special male privilege or a license for unleashing a brutal beast”.
The court had also refused to drop rape charges framed by a trial court against a man for his wife’s alleged sexual assault.
While upholding the charge of rape against the husband, the bench had observed: “A man is a man; an act is an act; rape is a rape, be it performed by a man the ‘husband’ on the woman ‘wife’. If it is punishable to a man, it should be punishable to a man albeit, the man being a husband.”
As per the present Indian law, under the exception to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.
Challenging the same, a batch of petitions including that by the NGOs RIT Foundation and All India Democratic Women’s Association has been filed in the Delhi High Court.
To this, Delhi High Court had asked the Centre to clear its stand on the issue, but by far, the government has requested time to clear its stand on the issue.
Centre claimed that the absence of any such consultative process by the executive/legislature may result in some injustice to one section or the other.