Social Issue

Marital Rape-A victim’s perspective

Please log in or register to do it.

Marital Rape – A victims perspective

(Prathiksha. K*, Rohit Prasanna Sri*)


INTRODUCTION : Marriage: It means a relationship between a woman and a man which is voluntarily taken by the parties as per their personal governing laws, and once that ceremony is concluded, the parties are further recognized as husband and wife. Rape is usually defined as having sexual intercourse with a person who does not want to, or cannot consent. Consent is when someone agrees of their own choice without being forced to. Rape is a form of sexual assault. Marital rape or spousal rape is the act of sexual intercourse with one’s spouse without the spouse’s consent. The lack of consent is the essential element and need not involves physical violence. Marital rape is considered a form of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Marital satisfaction is a mental state that reflects the perceived benefits and costs of marriage to a particular person.

BN METHODOLOGY: Case study method would be used.    

1. Prathiksha. K

II year Criminology and Police Administration

Agurchand Manmull Jain College

2. Rohit Prasanna Sri Asst. Prof of Psychology

Agurchand Manmull Jain College



Talking about the first word in the combined word ‗Martial rape‘, Marital means the relationship between a woman and a man which is voluntarily taken by the parties as per their personal governing laws and once that ceremony is concluded, the parties are further recognized as husband and wife. In a marriage, three elements are important to conclude that it is a marriage. a) Agreement to be married.

b) Living together as husband and wife.

c) Holding out to the public that the parties are married.

With all these essentials, the consent of living together is an important feature of marital relationships. Sharing common roof and duty to live together form part of the ‗Consortium Rape. Rape is usually defined as having sexual intercourse with a person who does not want to, or cannot consent. Consent is when someone agrees of their own choice without being forced to. In France it is more widely defined as ‘unwanted sexual penetration’. Rape is a form of sexual assault. Marital Rape; Marital rape or spousal rape is the act of sexual intercourse with one’s spouse without the spouse’s consent. The lack of consent is the essential element and need not involves physical violence. Marital rape is considered a form of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Historically, marital rape has not been recognized as a criminal act, only recently has marital rape becomes illegal in all 50 states. Marital rape is a serious societical issue that is experienced by 10% to 14% of all married woman and 40% to 50% of battered women. Marriage in which marital rape occurs have significant higher rates of nonsexual violence and marital dissatisfaction as well as lower ratings of marital rape. However, most of marital rape victims are either unable or afraid to resist sexual aggression by their husbands, victims of marital rape experience significant level of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) , depression, gynocological problems Section 375 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) consider the forced sex in marriage as a crime only when the wife is below age of 15 year. Thus marital rape is not a criminal offense under IPC. Marital rape Victims have to take recourse to the protection of women from domestic violence Act (PWDVA).

Causes for marital rape;

A. Dominance; We asked psychiatrist Dr Arun John from the Vandrevala Foundation about the precipitating factors for marital rape. “When discord between the spouses increases, the husband may try to assert himself by forcing himself upon the woman,” he says. In an attempt to one-up his wife, he will use the ultimate weapon in his arsenal to demean and degrade her. “This way he is showing his dominion over her and destroying her privacy. By doing so, he is insulting what the woman considers most sacred,” adds Dr John. While the act of rape itself is heinous, it is often the elaborate process of insulting, attacking and disrobingthe victim that makes marital rape particularly demeaning for the woman. “The man wants to assert that he is more powerful than the woman and she will be forever at his mercy,” says Dr John.

B. Sexual dissonance between the couple; Dr John says, “Sometimes, the woman may not be interested in sex for reasons that are clear only to her and may refuse her husband. Men are generally more oversexed than women are. So when the man is denied sex, he treats it as an insult to his manhood. “Manisha Lomash, life coach who works for Dr Happy Life Counselling adds, “Anatomically, the female body is designed to receive the sexual activity and the male body is meant to give. When the wife refuses sex, it could be because she has had a history of sexual abuse at a young age and may not view sex as a positive, pleasurable activity. So she may not receive it the way the husband expects her to. He may therefore not feel accepted because he is denied from performing the sexual act. “This may cause discord between the couple and the man, in a bid to overcome the humiliation of sexual rejection, and will force himself upon the wife.

Types of marital rape

1. Non-physical sexual coercion; Instead of physically overpowering the woman, the man may use different tactics to make the woman submit to sexual acts such as coercion or threats. According to a 2002 study, 30 percent of married thought they owed their husbands sex because the husbands spent on them. The same study showed that women also felt bullied or humiliated in the sexual activities. Another study said that women gave in the demands of their husband because they were afraid of dire consequences.

2. Threatened or forced sex; I such cases, the husband used intimidation techniques to frighten the wife into complying to his demands. He may threaten her with dire consequences or and physically force the woman into conceding.

3. Battering rape; It is the commonest form of martial rape according to a study conducted in 1985. Forty eight percent of all marital rapes come under this category. According to a study, such rapes were conducted out of hostility, retaliation and humiliation towards women. Many women in marriages who experience verbal and physical abuse also enduring this kind of marital rape.

4. Force only rape; In this type of marital rape, the assaulting husband only used enough physical force to have sex with the woman against her will.

5. Obsessive rape; One of the least common types of marital rapes, obsessive rapes are seen only in 6 % of marital rapes. In such cases, men expect their wives to comply with unusual sexual activities like bondage or reenactment of porn. These men have a preoccupation with sex and experience sexual arousal from perverted acts and by inflicting pain on their wives.

Who are the perpetrators of marital Rape;

1. Men who have low self esteem; “Men who carry out marital rapes generally have a very low self esteem. A person who is self-assured may not resort to force himself on his wife. He will have enough dignity to either respect her wishes or seek sexual pleasures outside.” “Such men may not realise the gravity of their actions unless the women walk out on them. The guilt and disgust about their own activities will be delayed,

2. Unemployed men; A 2002 study confirms that odds of marital rape are greater among unemployed men. Being unemployed may dent their self esteem which can precipitate into violence in the bedroom.

3. Family factor; If a man has grown up in an environment where he has seen his father enact the same behavior with his mother, the chances of him emulating his father will be greater.

4. Hypermasculinity; Societies that celebrate toxic masculinity or even men who are hypermasculine have chances of normalising marital rapes. According to a 1990 study, “macho” men were more likely to believe in “wifely duties” and that using force in such cases is justified.   Who are the victims

While it is obvious that the aggressing husband is at fault, Lomash also opines that the wife’s reluctance to comply aggravates the cases of marital rapes. The victim in such cases is someone who must have had a sexually abusive relationship in the past that must have put her off sex. Studies have shown that there have been more instances of marital rape committed on younger women than the older ones. Divorced or separated women are also at greater risk of being assaulted by their former spouses.

Satisfaction in marriage

Marital satisfaction is a mental state that reflects the perceived benefits and costs of marriage to a particular person. The more costs a marriage partner inflicts on a person, the less satisfied one generally is with the marriage and with the marriage partner. The marital relationship is one of the most important factors influencing the life satisfaction of the elderly. Marital happiness is a significant contributor to general sense of happiness. A satisfying marriage fulfills intimacy needs of the partners and enhances physical and mental health. There are three factors associated with marital satisfaction including, Communication, Sexual Satisfaction, and love/ adult attachment. Marital satisfaction is the result of a happy and satisfying quality of marriage. The main factor is sexual satisfaction which is the main cause for marital rape. Marriage is not a license to having sex, it also a bond which respect their partner. “Sometimes, the woman may not be interested in sex for reasons that are clear only to her and may refuse her husband. Men are generally more oversexed than women are. So when the man is denied sex, he treatsit as an insult to his manhood.” This is main cause for marital rape. Married men who are involved in pornography feel less satisfied with their conjugal relations and less emotionally attached to their wives. Wives notice and are upset by the difference.  Pornography use is a pathway to infidelity and divorce, and is frequently a major factor in these family differences. Among couples affected by one spouse’s addiction, two-thirds experience a loss of interest in sexual intercourse. Both spouses perceive pornography viewing as tantamount to infidelity.  Pornography viewing leads to a loss of interest in good family relations. Marital Dissatisfaction: Pornography use undermines marital relations and distresses wives. Husbands report loving their spouses less after long periods of looking at (and desiring) women depicted in pornography. In many cases, the wives of pornography users also develop deep psychological wounds, commonly reporting feelings of betrayal, loss, mistrust, devastation, and anger in responses to the discovery or disclosure of a partner’s pornographic online sexual activity. Wives can begin to feel unattractive or sexually inadequate and may become severely depressed when they realize their husbands view pornography. The distress level in wives may be so high as to require clinical treatment for trauma, not mere discomfort. Viewers of pornography assign increased importance to sexual relations without emotional involvement, and consequently, wives experience decreased intimacy from their husbands. The emotional distance fostered by pornography and “cybersex” (interactive computer contact with another regarding pornographic sexual issues) can often be just as damaging to the relationship as real-life infidelity, and both men and women tend to put online sexual activity in the same category as having an affair. The estrangement between spouses wrought by pornography can have tangible consequences as well: when the viewing of pornography rises to the level of addiction, 40 percent of “sex addicts” lose their spouses, 58 percent suffer considerable financial losses, and about a third lose their jobs. In a study on the effects of “cybersex”—a form of sexually explicit interaction between two people on the Internet—researchers found that more than half of  those engaged in

“cybersex” had lost interest in sexual intercourse, while one- third of their partners had lost interest as well, while in one-fifth of the couples both  husband and wife or both partners had a significantly decreased interest in sexual  intercourse. Stated differently, this study showed that only one-third of couples  maintained an interest in sexual relations with one another when one partner was  engaged in “cybersex.”  After all this she lost the whole satisfaction in love and  Then she decided to get divorce. The main cause is loss of interest in love life  Which leads her to be the Victim- of  Marital Rape.

Review of related literature:

(1) Diana Russell’s (1990) landmark study of sexual assault that involved interviews with 930 women in a randomly selected representative community sample in San Francisco  established the pervasiveness of marital rape.

(2) Researchers estimate that between 10 and 14% of married women experience rape in  marriage (Finkelhor & Yllo, 1985; Russell, 1990). When researchers have examined the prevalence of different types of rape, they have found that rape by intimates is common. In their study of Canadian women, Randall and Haskell (1995) found that 30% of women who were sexually assaulted as adults were assaulted by their intimate partners. Based on the findings of the largest U.S. study of violence against women to date, it is estimated that over 7 million women have been raped by their intimate partners in the United States (Mahoney, Williams & West, 2001; Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998).

(4) If we consider the number of women who felt emotionally coerced to have “unwanted sex” with their intimate partner, the prevalence is much higher. In a national study, Basile (2002) found that 34% of women indicated that they had unwanted sex with their partner—most frequently as a result of marital obligation. Rape in marriage may occur more frequently than previously estimated particularly when we consider that women who are involved in physically abusive relationships may be especially vulnerable to rape by their partners (Campbell, 1989; Pence & Paymar, 1993).

(5)Despite the prevalence of marital rape, this form of violence against women has received relatively little attention from social scientists, practitioners, the criminal justice system, and larger society as a whole (Bergen, 2005). In fact it was not until the 1970’s that we began, as a society, to acknowledge that rape in marriage could even occur. Today there is considerable evidence that marital rape is still perceived as a lesser crime than other forms of rape within our culture and some studies have found a significant number of participants still question

whether it is possible to rape one’s wife (Whatley, 2005; Kirkwood & Cecil, 2001). In a recent study of attitudes among college students, Monson, Byrd and Langhinrichsen-Rohling (1996) found that marital rape was perceived as less serious than rape perpetuated by a stranger and only 50% of the male students thought that it was possible for a husband to rape his wife.

Case study 

Name: S.M

Age: 19

Sex: female

Siblings: 2

Birth place: Theni, Tamil Nadu

Religion: Hindu

Occupation: – Marital status: Married

Nationality: Indian

Educational qualification: 10 th

Family background:

S.M was born and brought up in Theni , Tamil Nadu. She was the last out of 3 children. She is from traditional family background. Her father was so strict and order her like a slave. She wanted to complete her studies. But her father forced her to marry her cousin due to their family situation. She never had any interest in getting married in the first. After constant nagging by the parents she agreed to get married to her cousin. She was married at the age of 18. She got married on May, 2018. She had two elder brothers, who were unemployed Financial situation of the family was the main reason why she was married off early. She struggled lot to stop her marriage but in vain. Her husband was a watchmen who worked in a private company. . He was not able to afford her school fees. As a child, she faced lots of rejections and never got anything she wished. Her only wish was to study and she wanted to complete at least her higher studies. She thought that at least her husband would help her for fulfill her dream to study. The husband was very rude and short tempered. He was not ready to listen to his wife’s dream at any cost. She was unable to tell that she had no interest in her marriage life. She hesitated to share her feelings with her parents, because her parents were strict. She felt worthless at the time.  She has tried to commit suicide but her fear stopped her. Although, she got married to her cousin she disliked him because of his rude attitude and careless nature.

Victimization history:

After her marriage, she moved to Chennai, her husband’s native place, to start a new life. She felt strange being in Chennai for the first time as she was from rural village. She did not get any happiness in her husband’s place. She wanted to go back to her house from her husband and husband’s family. Her family situation forced her to stay with her husband. During this Discussion with her. She said that she felt worthless and was feeling inferior. When she was just studying 11th standard, she got married. She did not know understand what sexual relationship was. She disliked her husband’s touch, without her permission or consent. She was too young to handle her sexual life. In her husband’s family, all were dominating her. She felt alone. She wanted to go for a parttime job, but her husband refused to let her go for a job. He forced his wife for sex without her consent thus leading to marital rape. Her mother-in-law was sick and she wanted grandchildren through her. All the pressure of his family, her husband wanted to have sexual Intercourse with S.M. In her mensuration time, her husband forced her to have sex. Having being forced into sex during menstruation she started developing problems with her genital organs. There was excessive bleeding during the times of menstruation. She faced a lot of physical and mental stress. She had miscarriages twice. She felt she was too young to face such sexual tortures. She wanted to get a divorce. But her family situation forced her to live with her husband. Doctor told S.M that she had a weak uterus and suffered lot with physical issues. She was undergoing treatment. A uterine prolapse is when the uterus descends toward or into vagina. It happens when the Pelvic floor muscles and ligaments become weak and are no longer able to support the uterus.

( 2 )

Name: S.G

Age: 26

Sex: female

Siblings: 0

Birth place: Chennai

Religion: Hindu

Occupation: Architect

Marital status: Married

Nationality: Indian

Educational qualification: BE. Architecture

Family background:

S.G was born and brought up in Chennai. She is from an upper middle class family.  She lost her mother at the age of 5. She is very much suffered for mother’s love. Her father only took care of her. She gets everything like play things, dresses, accessories and whatever she wished for. But she needed the care of her mother. At the age of 10, she was sent to her uncle’s house in Coimbatore. She completed her school in Coimbatore high school. She joined Coimbatore College of engineering to complete her degree. She joined Bachelor of Architect. There she fell in love with her classmate. Both of their parents accepted their love. After five years of being in love they wanted to get married. With their parents support, they started new love life in Chennai. They both joined in a firm to work. Her life went on great. She told that, she got lots of love from her husband.

She led a happy love life. They also celebrated thier 6th year of love Anniversary.

Victimization History: 

Unexpectedly, her husband got addicted to alcohol and porn videos. Whenever he consumed alcohol, he forced her to have sex with his wife without her Consent thus leading to marital rape. He told her wife to act the same way as shown in porn videos. This caused her a great amount of distress. Initially she thought this porn addiction was just a phase and tried to put up with it. As days passed by the addiction had gotten serious and there were more cases of assault. She tried having a conversation with her husband about his problems and suggested taking professional help. The husband refused to acknowledge that he had a problem in the first place and was enraged by her suggestion that he took up a glass bottle and broke it on her hand, thus injuring her. He continued assaulting her while drunk leading to marital rape. The victim had no option but to inform the parents about the situation. Although the husbands’ parents condemned the drinking behavior, they did not do anything about the pornography addiction or the continuous sexual assault on the victim. This led to her wanting a divorce from the husband. She moved away from the husbands place and back to her home with her father. She has applied for a divorce and the case in the court.


1. The case study was done with only two people, owing to unavailability of samples.

2. The paper cannot be generalized owing to the sample size and demography.


1. The cases show that marital rape is a relatively common occurrence.

2. This paper can be used as a pilot study for a qualitative research paper that is going to be made in the future.


Marriage is not a license for having or forcing a woman for sex. It has been concluded that   Indian laws have failed to provide a proper protection to women as earlier as the women are still treated as the property of husband and he has all the rights to exploit her and no remedies have been provided. Though a husband’s violent and non-consensual act of intercourse may entitle a wife to bring an action for criminal assault, the incorporation of the principal of liability for marital rape in our penal laws is not present. This prima facie violates Article 14 and 21 of the Indian

Constitution. Non-criminalization of marital rape is the major concern in the Indian legal system. In order to protect the women, the Judiciary should take initiatives to safeguard them. Married women should be taken proper care and they should not be subjected to sexual assault or violence.


1) Karan Doshi’s  Essay, “Marital rape and Men’s Rights”

2) Sarthar Makkar Article, Marital Rape: A non-profit criminalized crime in India.

3) Law Audience Journal, “Marital Rape and the disputed concept of Implied consent” authored by Mr. Sahajveer Baweja.

4) Martin, E.K. Taft, C.T. and Resick, P.A ( 2007 ). A review of Marital rape . Aggression and violent Behavior, 12(3) , 329 – 347



Already reacted for this post.


Nobody liked ?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *