Marital rape refers to the act of sexual intercourse with one’s spouse without the spouse’s consent. Marital rape is the most serious offense in stereotype societies like Nepal, India, and many more.
Women are always being victims of marital rape by their husbands. They never reported about it or not even raised a voice against such crimes. Sexual harassments, domestic violence, marital rape, etc. are the most serious offenses found in Nepalese society.
Nepal being a religious country husband are worshipped as the ‘Gods’, where no women can complain about their inhuman activities to anyone in the society as well as in the family.
‘Families’ prestige is the first ornament of womens’ life.’ Due to such mentality of the people always women have to suffer. Either they can tell to any member of the family, not to the authority who is there to deliver the justice. Law is there to protect the citizens from every harm which they can suffer at any time in any way.
Marital rape is one of the classifications of rape. Married women can protect their family prestige by being quiet and letting things happen time and again but they fail to protect their decisions (the denial of consent).
Marital rape is one of the persistent forms of violence. There are various reasons why many women suffer from marital rape time and again and have less vocal about it. They are listed as follows:
a. Most married women are dependent upon their husbands.
b. Their husbands are placed in the place of gods and it’s the duty of women to fulfill every need of their husbands whether she wants or not.
c. If women share their problems (which is very least), the family will tell her to suppress the truth because there won’t be the family prestige anymore in the society.
d. Women should maintain her marriage and she won’t be breaking by that marriage otherwise there would be so many problems arising to the family (divorced women are seen as the worse than anything).
e. Husband blackmails their wife not to speak anything about the truth with any family members or other people.
The criminalization of marital rape is only maintained in the law books or codes of Nepal. But there is a huge gap in practicality. There are only 10% of marital rape are registered to the new record.
As of now, many women are coming into the public and being able to speak about the black truth of their husbands but still, there are various women who are suppressed to behave such every day. Women are treated like a goddess in Nepal and the people behave in such a pathetic way to women as they are not human beings but as an object.
Marital rape has not yet found the coverage it needs. The boldness of some women who are speaking about it and going against marital rape is only getting coverage to some extent. Even if the crime is done by the husband it is rape, the offender must be punished and the victim must be protected by the law.
The portrayal of the victim is very much critical. Those who are raped are portraited as depressive, being weak, and unable to speak and they actually need support.
A married woman has the same right to control her own body as does an unmarried woman. Every woman is inherent with equal rights whether a woman is from a city area or rural area. Women from any place are subjected to protect their bodies and consent for anything, whether to say No or Yes. A simple no is a sentence in itself. But husbands are full of ego and when they hear no from their wife, they use force.
Not every husband does that but those who do have no idea how long they can be punished and their life can be ruined to which extent. Whether a woman is educated or employed or belongs to an elite family, they are being a victim.
In a novel named Louisiana Catch, there is a character named Ahana (female protagonist) who is the survivor of marital rape. She is educated and belongs to an elite family but she cannot say no to her husband or even walk away. She is so confused and afraid at first but at last, she shares her story to the public and encourages other females to make their husbands liable for the serious offense and violence committed against them.
In many marriages’ women did not recognize the forceful intimation as rape and they do whatever their husbands ask them to do. There are laws for marital rape but its prosecution is very low. Women must be strong and raise voices for their rights and dignity. Marital rape is linked with physical brutality and in most the cases, husband’s goal emerges to be retaliation.
Every woman must be aware that they should stop themselves from being harm and learn to say no to any act which is against her. People will talk no matter but your rights must be protected which is guaranteed by the nation’s constitution and international conventions. Marital rape is a serious offense where the offender is identified as a husband and must be punished. It should not be ignored at any cost.
Marital rape is common but under-reported cases are many in Nepal. Joint Women (NGO), conducted a study and found that out of 10 married women, 7 married women are raped by their husbands at least once. The mere declaration of act as a crime is not enough. There are many things that need to be done for intensifying the police and the judiciary. There should be proper awareness and delivery of education about marital rape to women who are not aware of it.
Thus, if society concedes confronts the persuading myth that rape by one’s spouse is meaningless, the real goal of criminalizing marital rape can only be accomplished.
Reference case related to marital rape in Nepal :
1. Jit Kumari Pangeni and Others vs. Government of Nepal 2006.
(Aryal is BALLB student of Kathmandu School of Law, Bhaktapur.)