Why did ex-CJI Dipak Misra justify marital rape?

In the 21st century where debates have started about feminism, violence against women and rape culture has become so deeply established in the fundamentals of patriarchal thinking and misogyny that even a bystander of these acts, or someone hoping to become a part of the solution is inevitably an unwilling contributor to the bigger problem.

The two major instances that have been going viral over the internet have again sparked arguments over what misogyny truly is. Ex-Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, who gave the legendary judgements in cases decriminalising adultery and homosexuality made a remark that marital rape should not be made a crime.

In another instance, an Argentine company, in an attempt to highlight the importance of consent has designed ‘consent condom’ that requires four hands to open the pack.

Analysing both these incidents individually highlights how deep-rooted the problem truly is in the context of India as well as the world. While rape rates have multiplied, crimes against women such as domestic violence, acid attacks have also seen a sharp rise with even the most stringent of laws not having much of an impact. It is imperative to mention that we live in a world where a girl is raped on a moving bus with an iron rod and one of the perpetrators is freed on accounts of being a juvenile. A juvenile who does not have much understanding of the world but the rape culture is part of even his psyche.
Ex-CJI Dipak Misra is no different, despite being educated, exposed to umbrage of crimes against women (mostly violent) and knowing the growing culture of gender equality. His comments about marital rape and family values show what an average man thinks about the rights of women as well as their suffering. The trend is not only present in India though his statements were India-centric.

He said, “I do not think that marital rape should be regarded as an offence in India, because it will create absolute anarchy in families and our country is sustaining itself because of the family platform which upholds family values.”

These words show how suppression of women becomes alternative with family values in a patriarchal society and consent is a concept buried deep beneath the marriage vows in a place where whether it is found or not, does not matter.

Especially in a country like India, where arranged marriages are often forced and in rural areas, girls are often married without their wills, allowing marital rape is stealing a woman’s right on her own body.

This is where the consent debate starts. Where on one hand, Bollywood has made people believe “there is a yes hidden in a girl’s no”, feminists across the globe have been trying to convey to the masses that “no means no” and if a girl smiles at you, it does not mean she will sleep with you.

Even in normal relationships, fake rape charges have created a debate on consent where people often say that if a girl is sexually active and she said yes once but later changed her mind, then it is not rape. What is consent really? Consent means being in constant agreement with an act. And if at any point, there is a lack of consent, then the act must stop.

Thus, Consent Condom by the Argentine company is more to safeguard the interests of the men who face fake rape charges than actually instilling the importance of consent. Because people who do not care about the consent of a woman, would also not care about a condom. And rapists, of course, don’t stop to get a condom first.

Thus incidents like these showcase the true reflection of male psyche wherein no matter how progressive one becomes, or how helpful one wishes to be, inevitably they cannot move ahead of the patriarchal and anti-women binds that chains them.

The article is written by the editor-in-chief of Straight Line.