Women cannot be commodified, claims lawyer in marital rape case

A woman cannot be treated like a commodity, not having the right to say no, the lawyer for a petitioner in the case relating to the criminalization of marital rape told the Delhi High Court on Monday.

A bench of Judges Rajiv Shakdher and C. Hari Shankar heard a batch of pleas, challenging the exception to section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and asking for a directive that marital rape be declared an offense and a felony .

“We will address the question of punishment, because it serves neither the victim nor the perpetrator. The exception is entirely independent of this concern,” said Advocate Karuna Nundy, representing the petitioning NGOs RIT Foundation and All India Democratic Women’s Association, in her rebuttal arguments for the petitioners.

“It is absolutely clear that a rapist does not remain a rapist and that marriage converts him into a non-rapist,” she added.

Nundy said his arguments were divided into three sections.

“First, our constitution is transformative and compels us to travel to the destination of constitutional morality. The second is what is the test that must be applied to SC judgment in independent thought. The third thing is that we will address the argument of the marital rape and the fact that it was before independence, has no application in mind.

“Our Constitution is in our hands, women have won universal suffrage, the right to work, the right to worship and the right against divorce by speaking three words,” she said.

Arguments, which were inconclusive on Monday, will continue on Tuesday.

Barrister Rebecca M John, who is assisting the court in the case as an amicus curiae, had previously told the court there was a legitimate expectation of sex in a marriage.

“Waiting cannot be penalised. The spouse has the right to seek civil remedies. But if waiting becomes a physical act based on coercion and force, then that sexual act must become an offence,” she argued.

The Center had recently filed a new affidavit in the High Court, in response to a series of petitions seeking to criminalize marital rape, argued that it was looking into the matter of significant changes in the country’s criminal law and that the petitioner could also share their suggestions. to the competent authorities.

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