Kerala HC Says Marital Rape Is A Valid Ground For Divorce Despite It Being Legal

Marital rape, or forcing one’s spouse into having sex without proper consent is still legal in our country. In a country where domestic violence against women is rampant (nearly 70% of Indian women are victims of domestic violence), the legality of marital rape has been faced with much opposition from citizens demanding proper laws to protect women.

Even though marital rape is still legal, the Kerala High Court has made it clear at it can be accepted as a ground for divorce. According to TOI, the Kerala High Court recognised it as a form of “physical and mental cruelty”.

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“Treating wife‚Äôs body as something owing to husband and committing the sexual act against her will is nothing but marital rape. Right to respect for his or her physical and mental integrity encompasses bodily integrity; any disrespect or violation of bodily integrity is a violation of individual autonomy,” the court declared.

The court further went on to add that it was time to “revamp” marriage laws in India.

“In modern social jurisprudence, spouses in a marriage are treated as equal partners and husband cannot claim any superior right over wife either with respect to her body or with reference to individual status,” Live Law quoted the court saying.

The court added that even though the law doesn’t recognise marital rape as a crime under the Penal Code, it cannot stop the court from recognising it as a form of “cruelty”, thereby making it a legitimate ground for divorce.

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“We, therefore, are of the view that marital rape is a good ground to claim divorce,” the court said.

This occurred during the court was hearing the appeal of a husband, a doctor by profession, against the verdict of a family court allowing a petition for divorce on the ground of “cruelty” and dismissal of a petition for “restitution of conjugal rights”, reports The Indian Express.

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