Is rape sanskari too, now? - Godyears

Is rape sanskari too, now?

March 11, 2016


The Minister for Women and Child Development for India, Maneka Gandhi did a U-turn from her own earlier stand and told the Rajya Sabha this week that marital rape cannot be considered a crime in India because of factors like poverty, illiteracy and religion.

Poverty. Illiteracy. Religion. Social customs. Treating marriage as a sacrament.
Things that do not exist in any other part of the world.
Things unique to India alone.

Poverty. Illiteracy. Religion. Social customs. Treating marriage as a sacrament.
The reasons why the Indian woman should silently accept being raped by her husband.




Rape is not about sex. It is an act that scars for life. It is about subjugation. It is about forceful empowerment against one's will, demeaning and defiling them. In that, it is the exact antithesis of what an ideal marriage should be - a union of two hearts and minds, nurturing, trusting and caring.
To protect an act of rape - any act of rape - is not just cowardice but makes one worry about the mindset of the defender.


What exactly is your defense here, Ms Gandhi?


  • The wife is too poor to understand she is being raped?
  • The woman has only studied until third standard so she is incapable of knowing whether she wants sex?
  • The Hindu/Muslim/Christian woman must allow her husband to do anything to her at any time whether she is in the mood or not simply because this hadith and that scripture says she has no right to her body after marriage?
  • That it is okay for the husband to rape the wife because that is how things have been going on for ages in their caste?

Is that really your best defense, Minister of Women & Child Development?

There is a place for religion and social customs. But there is a time to move forward as well. What worked in the past need not apply to the world today.

  • Naming it after a pious Hindu woman or conceptualizing it as a honour to join the husband in the funeral pyre did not make Sati any nobler an act and it was rightfully abolished.
  • The reasons why genital mutilation is prevalent even today in Africa ranges from maintaining the cultural identity to religious reasons; still does not make it any less horrific.
  • Slavery continued to be practiced and condoned for centuries citing tradition, culture and religion. 


You cannot just say - "We are Indians, different from the remaining 4.8 billion human beings and our 586 million women understand culturally when they get married that their husbands can use rape to win an argument or mentally and physically scar them into obedience... and it's okay."






Is criminalizing marital rape easy?
No. And that is what the minister should have been focusing on. If she had given an argument that spiteful wives would use this as an excuse to frame their husbands, I would have wholeheartedly accepted that she had a point. A very valid point, sadly. Moreover, proving medico-legally that marital rape took place is a nightmare, I am sure. But there is no mention of that.

That is why I say you screwed up, Ms Gandhi.
You trivialized rape when you should have acknowledged it and moved forward to discussing means to stop it. Instead of condemning it and letting women know they were victims, you asked them to shut up about it - to be TOLERANT of it, as you political kids say today - because of absurd clauses that were meant to shame them for even considering crying at being victimized.


It scares me that we continue to regress when we should be moving forward as a nation.
I am tired of all the nonsensical things people promote today in the name of being sanskari. Any chance we get, we negate any sort of forward-thinking mindset by quoting traditions and insane logic.
Everyone - even a child - knows that being raped is a crime. Don't trivialize it with the same set of sorry sanskari excuses you use to shame women who wear jeans or do not wear a bindi or scarf. Leave culture be and focus on the crime rather than saying rape isn't a crime at all and hence the statistics don't matter.

Stand up for victims of violence, instead of telling them that they deserve it because of their third standard marks certificate or because their mothers used to quietly accept marital rape.

Stand up for victims of rape instead of shaming and silencing them with imbecilic moral, traditional and religious codes of Omerta.

It's 2016. It's Women Empowerment you should aim for, not Ensnarement.

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51 comments

  1. Roshan, it is sad that the woman cannot even complain now? Why should the perpetrator get away with it? Its a no brainer.

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    1. That's probably the right choice of words. It should have been a no-brainer. Instead, its become a decision taken by people with no brains.

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  2. I don't see why a violent crime should be masked behind the cloak of sanskaar. Moreover I don't understand how a minister for Women's development could say this (or anyone at all, but that someone in this position has such views scares me). Sad part is there are several (a considerable number of people in fact) who believe the phrase "marital rape" is some kinda oxymoron and they feel entitled to sex with or without consent. I've seen signboards with this written on them.
    What more will they hide under sanskaarification. Like you said, it's 2016. They need to wake up.

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    1. Its trivializing a grave issue that affects so many women... and its not some B-grade buffoon saying it either. Its the Minister appointed to defend their rights. So frustrating.

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  3. "f she had given an argument that spiteful wives would use this as an excuse to frame their husbands, I would have wholeheartedly accepted that she had a point. A very valid point, sadly." I completely agree to this.

    But saying that is has everything to do with sanskaar, is stupid to the core. So a sanskaari woman is not supposed to know what rape is now? Or is a woman supposed to be so sanskaari that she is not supposed to talk about it?

    Povery, illiteracy and religion has nothing to do with rape. It is sad that it is actually a woman who had this to say. A woman who is entrusted to protect them in the first place.

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    1. Your points are absolutely right and I have no answer to give simply because I am as stumped as you are.. rather than moving forward and debating on marital rape, we have just cleaned the black board and said it doesn't exist cos of 'poverty, religion and education'.
      By the women entrusted to protect women, as you said.

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  4. I totally agree with Soumya. The issue could be sticky if women misuse it. But to reject it for the parameters mentioned is ridiculous. I would have expected better from Maneka Gandhi but alas!

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    1. exactly. No doubt there is the risk of it being misused. But to deny thousands of actual rape victims justice because some spiteful women will look to take revenge - its a poorly thought of concept. And yet, they havent even used that as the defense at all!

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  5. From someone outside of your culture I would just say: Marital rape is wrong. Period. That a woman should defend it for any reason - cultural, religious or otherwise, is WRONG.

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    1. That is what sucks so much - a woman in such a prominent position and capable of doing so much for empowerment is taking such a ridiculous stand.

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  6. Misuse of a law can be dangerous, but that doesn't mean we fail to protect those who need protection. Marital Rape should be grounds for not just for divorce, but also punishment.

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    1. Exactly. Here, it is equal to saying 'please don't rape outside. We are giving you a free pass to do so within the confines of the home.'

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  7. Having a marital law, may not be the ultimate solution to the issue of marital rape. Nevertheless, it is a much needed thing, to bring about a change in the mindset that prevails in society. It could bring out a message, loud and clear, that marriage does not give the man a license to exercise his dominance over the woman. It would help us take that step ahead in bringing about a positive change in our patriarchy society, of bringing about equality and respect in a relationship.

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    1. I agree. There is no quick fix to the risks of misusing a law. But then does that mean we ignore all genuine cases and tell the rape victim she is incapable of understanding she's been raped? How can anyone defend that stand?

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  8. Maneka Gandhi, thou art totally bonkers! What were you thinking while shooting out such nonsense? Probably you thought the public was totally illiterate to comprehend anything you say? Doc you have pinned this Sanskari Gandhi Bahu for her totally brash and thoughtless comment. Our leaders need to keep a watch on their constant foot in the mouth afflictions and beware of the repurcussions. Well articulated on a topic that is still taboo in most communities in India.

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    1. From what I am seeing in today's news, apparently it is a word by word copy of what was said by the previous minister earlier. Just imagine how sad a plight it is. They are not in the least bothered about what they do. Just grab a portfolio and take the benefits of it.

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  9. I could believe when I read abt her opinion. In times like this when everyone is starting to develop a sense of anger and outburst towards rape, here she was saying marital rape is kinda ok. Just because women don't understand that marital rape is actually as heinous as rape, because a marriage certificate makes it ok, these things happen.

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    1. That is what is scary. Rape is a crime under any context. To say a woman's education qualifications or bank balance determines whether she is being raped or not is insane. Tired of such third rate attitudes.

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  10. It pains me to see how women in such position and AFTER Nirbhaya incident still speak of this kind of nonsense. A huge trail of comments that I just read on Facebook also was on one 'cool' 'literate' guy defending rape to the teeth. I just can not believe why such people even exist and I wish that the women in their lives go through marital rape EVERY single day in their lives, and these B****** get to hear their screams every day. ALSO, Ms Makeka Gandhi seems to now take a 180 degree turn on her last year's statements - maybe just maybe her son is guilty of the offense?? JUST thinking.
    Angry. Livid. Frustrated. Losing Hope. Thinking of Nirbhaya. Injustice everywhere. We revere Goddesses?

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    1. I saw a similar discussion on facebook and stopped reading the debate after a few comments. You feel like reaching into the computer screen, grabbing the guy and slapping him.
      Maneka Gandhi taking a 180 is totally weird. She's such a staunch activist against any minor harm dealt to animals. But violating a woman who has a mangal sutra apparently does not count for the same, I guess.

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  11. Our ministers have one common area of work on - that's called effective communication.Dismissing the issue in the name of sanskaar is the worst thing ever. Be open if you say how we separate right from wrong is the challenge but don't cover it up in those words of culture, how we are and stuff.

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    1. It is the lack of sensible communication and the scary messages being sent out that scare me more than ever now.
      Using culture as a shield to justify everything has become a skill now.

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  12. Roshan, Very powerful and truthful post. Women are to be treated as women irrespective of money, religion, education and society. Hats off to you .... <3 <3 <3

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    1. Women are equal to men... I don't see how the rules change where physical violence is concerned. Or how a minister for women & child care can advocate violence in the name of preserving culture.

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  13. A rape is a rape. When a woman's body is violated against her will, despite the fact that the person doing it is her own husband, the act becomes no less cruel. It is sad that it is a woman who is making these statements against other women. Every woman has the right to say NO, irrespective of their status. What is our country coming to?

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    1. I honestly don't care so much for the fact that she's a woman. I care because she's the person in charge of women and children everywhere and with this one decision, she's proved she's totally unreliable for the post.
      In an ideal set up, one can be fired but here you know she will stay put to the chair till the next government. And that sucks for women all over India

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  14. It is SO disheartening to hear such news in today's world. Rape is a violation of a woman's body and her will. It is a form of abuse, even within marriage.

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    1. I'm honestly lost on the guidelines being drawn here now - physical abuse is a crime but rape is cultural and thus should be tolerated?

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  15. What a powerful post Roshan.. And it really needs to go to the ministers.. They are the ones who should take the initiatives to curb such crimes and here it is the other way round! What an irony! Rape is a rape, even if its in a marriage! And the women being spiteful point, is just so solid! How come the ministers not came up with this.. It's ridiculous to see what is being preached in the country!

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    1. We can't keep having ministers who give absurd statements justifying violence. The nonsense from that nirbhaya episode: her fault for going out, girls fault for eating chowmein... What all rubbish said just to justify rape.
      And here we are, still stuck in the same loop saying money. Culture and education decides

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  16. What a powerful post Roshan.. And it really needs to go to the ministers.. They are the ones who should take the initiatives to curb such crimes and here it is the other way round! What an irony! Rape is a rape, even if its in a marriage! And the women being spiteful point, is just so solid! How come the ministers not came up with this.. It's ridiculous to see what is being preached in the country!

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    1. Thanks Geets.
      Its frustrating because we are not making any move forward. To just read the exact same statement as given a year earlier by the previous minister shows that there has been zero thought given to such an important matter.

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  17. Apparently just about everything goes in the name of culture these days - enough to make you sick. Apparently Madam Gandhi has much more sympathy for cows being milked! Sorry, I know that sounded rude, but I'm mad as hell.
    Thank you for raising this issue, Roshan.

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    1. I honestly didn't think of that until someone pointed it out to me in twitter - this was the person who fought for every small thing animal related and here when she needs to really take a stand she chickens out.

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  18. I can't believe the kind of nonsensical debates going on in India today. Have we lost our collective senses? I agree with you that she should have focused coming in the way of proving rape and not denied the fact that it is an issue for many in their farce of a marriage

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    1. That's the thing. There are bigger issues of legality involved in this but atleast start discussing it. To just throw the topic into the bin saying it's a non issue because marital rape isn't criminal in India... How are we all staying silent on this?

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  19. I can't believe the kind of nonsensical debates going on in India today. Have we lost our collective senses? I agree with you that she should have focused coming in the way of proving rape and not denied the fact that it is an issue for many in their farce of a marriage

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  20. The things they condone in the name of sanskaar! Here it is the most heinous of crimes - something that hurts a woman way beyond the physical, that needs healing on a thousand different levels - and it's not a crime at all because she is married to the perpetrator. Strange and very very sad. I wonder what she was thinking when she said this.

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    1. From an article that appeared on Saturday, it seems she just read what the previous minister in the same post said a year ago. Which raises the question - what the hell are they doing? Just taking old print outs and reading it? For such an important issue, you've not bothered to debate or discuss or God forbid, move forward.

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  21. How can rape be justified under ANY circumstance? ANY? Like you said, yes the law should not be misused if it comes into effect but will it? Being a woman and a voice that speak for Indian women, Ms.Gandhi should know better !

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    1. I fear nothing will come of this. There seems to be no move from the government's side to even clarify or reconsider her words.

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  22. Another powerful post on the drawbacks of our society! What Maneka Gandhi says is unacceptable and Government should act fast.

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    1. Just act sensibly... that is all one can ask for. Instead we have people cheering this kind of stand.

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  23. She screwed up big time with her Unsanskari, shameless and sad statement. How can she say something like that and blaming it on the lack of education or poverty? I find it ridiculous for people to get away citing such lame excuses. Being a woman, she should know better and emphatize by making a strong statement rather than condoning a heinous crime. No matter a juvenile got away scot free!!

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    1. That is the sad fact - you leave loopholes for people to exploit and then wonder why things don't change. Unless you make the change when you are the one in charge, how will it occur.

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  24. seems like all the third world countries are in the list.
    I can't believe she actually thinks that way. That sanskar and rape will be used in same sentence. I used to look up to her since "head and tails" days.
    Thank you for writing this Roshan.

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    1. Sadly, yes. We share some very dubious cellmates in this list, don't we?
      Some of the worst offenders of human rights.

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  25. If you have sanskar...you treat women with dignity. If you don't you don't deserve their love and companionship. Period. Legislation should change for the better, awareness needs to be spread on what is acceptable and what is not. A neighbourhood maid comes to work everyday with bruises and she also limps sometimes. When I try to counsel her she warns me to stay clear of all this saying that it's her life and she doesn't need my interference. I feel sad and helpless because I know that at the place she stays, she will be molested or beaten up if I file a police complaint on her behalf. So I am a mute spectator. When will this change... How can we create a safety net for such battered souls who know no better life.

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    1. That's one of the saddest yet commonest aspects of this charade - the fact that we cannot even help those who need it. That we cannot even convince people not to violate the ones they live with without being considered nosy parkers and being told to mind our own business.

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  26. her statement is incomprehensible. women are raped by their drunk husbands in slums every night

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    1. For some reason, we need to accept that as okay...

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