Stop Using Marriages as Licenses for Rape

Target: Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India

Goal: Ban marital rape and other acts of spousal violence in all circumstances.

India has made a concerted effort to shed some of its most archaic laws that were rooted in imperialism, such as permitting child marriages. Leaders touted a new penal code that was supposed to reflect a more modern India. Yet when it comes to an issue of important consequence to many women, the penal code remains entrenched in its shameful past.

According to a section of the code concerning sexual assault, “sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his wife, the wife not being under 18 years of age, is not rape.” Just like many other nations once weighted under imperialism, India has historically refused to recognize the crime of marital rape. Loud critics, increasingly in the minority, have nevertheless held outsized sway by claiming that making forced sexual acts between a husband and wife a crime would somehow “violate the sanctity of marriage.” Even in cases where sexual assault occurs against a separated spouse (which is deemed a crime), the punishment for the offender is much lower than in a typical rape case.

This continued legal double standard is only worsening rights abuses in a nation where women are reportedly 17 times more likely to endure sexual violence (and other physical violence) from a spouse than from a stranger or acquaintance. Sign the petition below to demand the leader of India honor his claims to uplift women.


Dear Prime Minister Modi,

You have frequently emphasized the vital role of women in helping India become a developed nation. And your ministry has touted the importance of ridding India’s penal code of the lingering chains of colonialism. But a crucial part of this new code has gravely harmed both aspirations.

The code’s implicit support of marital rape is one of the most damaging relics of imperial rule. And to this date, an estimated one-third of the nation’s married women have admitted to spousal violence committed against them. The continued stigma attached to these acts of violence means the actual numbers could be much higher. How does this violence in any way affirm the “sanctity of marriage” or empower women?

If you truly mean what you say about the value you hold for all women in your country, prove it through your actions. Support and advocate for the criminalization of marital rape. Let India take another important step into the future.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Katalin Fabian

One Comment

  1. India is hardly the country I came to appreciate many years ago. India is now Westernized. India is a country where men reign superior. They aren’t as the women are amazingly intelligent and admired all over the world. India has no equality. I thought America did but I was wrong about that! India has so many people. I can hardly advise how India should be run as a country but this isn’t it! Women are mothers. By birth their bodies are made for birth but not for rape, not for slashing and evil punishment if a man’s demands are not met. Men, grow up! Appreciate, allow equality in all relationships which includes marriage.

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