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Challenging The Sanctity Of Marriage, Exploring The Debate On Criminalizing Marital Rapes In India

Abhishek Kumar Pandey, Kirit P. Mehta School of Law, NMIMS

Divyanshu Singh Jadon, Kirit P. Mehta School of Law, NMIMS


The law in India does not criminalise marital rape, i.e., the Indian Penal Code, 1860, does not recognise that it is a crime for a husband to rape his wife. The notion of the sanctity of marriage has played a significant role in the resistance to criminalizing marital rape in India. This complex issue revolves around deeply entrenched cultural and societal beliefs that prioritize the institution of marriage above individual rights and bodily autonomy.

In India, marriage is often perceived as sacred and inviolable, with societal norms emphasizing the preservation of marital harmony and family unity. This perception has led to the resistance against recognizing marital rape as a criminal offense. Many argue that criminalizing marital rape would undermine the sanctity of marriage, potentially encouraging false accusations and marital discord. Such arguments reflect a prevailing mindset that views the husband as the rightful authority within the marriage, entitled to sexual access to his wife without her consent.

Critics argue that this approach not only perpetuates gender inequality but also violates constitutional principles of equality and justice. They contend that the right to bodily autonomy should not be compromised within the institution of marriage. Several legal reform initiatives, such as the Justice Verma Committee's recommendations and the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, have attempted to address this issue; however, progress remains slow.

The resistance to criminalizing marital rape in India is deeply entwined with the traditional notion of the sanctity of marriage, complex legal structures, and deeply ingrained cultural attitudes. Addressing this issue necessitates a multifaceted approach that considers legal reforms alongside efforts to challenge societal norms and perceptions regarding marital relationships and women's rights.

Keywords: Sanctity of Marriage, Bodily Autonomy, Gender Inequality, Societal Norms, Marital Rape, Individual Rights.


Indian Journal of Law and Legal Research

Abbreviation: IJLLR

ISSN: 2582-8878


Accessibility: Open Access

License: Creative Commons 4.0

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​All research articles published in The Indian Journal of Law and Legal Research are fully open access. i.e. immediately freely available to read, download and share. Articles are published under the terms of a Creative Commons license which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the IJLLR or its members. The designations employed in this publication and the presentation of material therein do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the IJLLR.

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