Rape Is Rape, Be It By Man Or Husband: Karnataka High Court On Marital Rape

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New Delhi: Marriage is no license to ‘unleash a brutal beast’, the Karnataka High Court said on Wednesday while declining to quash charges of rape against a man accused of forcing his wife to be a ‘sex slave’.

According to a single-judge bench of Justice M Nagaprasanna, the institution of marriage cannot be utilised to grant any unique male privilege or a permission for unleashing a “brutal beast” on the wife, according to a report by Bar and Bench.

“A brutal act of sexual assault on the wife, against her consent, albeit by the husband, cannot but be termed to be a rape. Such sexual assault by a husband on his wife will have grave consequences on the mental sheet of the wife, it has both psychological and physiological impact on her. Such acts of husbands scar the soul of the wives,” the High Court order said.

The Karnataka High Court was hearing a case filed by a woman who accused her husband of treating her as a ‘sex slave’ right from the beginning of their marriage. She also said that her husband forced her to have unnatural sex, even in front of their daughter and termed him ‘inhuman’.

“Institution of marriage does not confer, cannot confer and in my considered view, should not be construed to confer, any special male privilege or a license for unleashing of a brutal beast. If it is punishable to a man, it should be punishable to a man albeit, the man being a husband,” the Court said.

It is to be noted that after several instances of physical and mental torture to the woman and her child, she registered a complaint against the husband for offences punishable under Sections 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) 498A (cruelty to wife) 323 (Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) 377 (Unnatural offences) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 10 (aggravated sexual assault) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO).

The Special Court framed charges against the petitioner husband for offences punishable under Sections 376 (rape), 498A and 506 of IPC and Section 5(m) and (l) read with Section 6 of the POCSO Act.

Pointing out to exceptions in IPC Section 375, that reads, “Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape,” the HC said that this inequality of exempting a husband for his acts destroys the soul of the Constitution that is Right to Equality.

While upholding the charge of rape against the husband, the court noted that “A man is a man; an act is an act; rape is a rape, be it performed by a man the “husband” on the woman “wife”.

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