Behind Closed Doors

In: Social Issues

Submitted By aaliyahlmao
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The sensible comment by the Minister for Women and Child Development [a very rare occasion] about legislating on 'marital rape' has, expectedly, raised a storm of protest, especially in the print media. A national daily recently carried a comment by its regular columnist who claims that "marriage itself is often devoid of consent in any real sense." "Why should marriage" he asks "give licence to a man to force himself on a woman against her will?"

The problem with such journalists is that they intervene in a public discussion without understanding the question. The opinion piece is titled: "A Question of Consent."

This column displays ignorance about the cultural as well as the contractual aspects of marriage as a social institution. The questions asked reveal an immature understanding of marriage as it has existed in India for millennia. He asserts (falsely) that "The marriage itself is imagined as a form of blanket consent. For a woman, the exercise of consent before marriage is denied, (sic) for any consensual sexual contact on her part is considered taboo, and after marriage it is seen to be unnecessary for the act of getting married is seen to be a form of consent to all that is to follow. The reason why sexual violence is so embedded is because individual consent on an everyday basis has never been part of the deal in the first place."(sic).

The sheer inanity of this argument is so obvious that it is surprising that it is advanced in the first place. When two people enter into a contract to manufacture a product, they are both expected to know the nature of the product as well as the processes necessary to produce it. They are also expected to know the financial, the commercial and the social consequences of manufacturing and selling the product. The contract cannot be said to be a contract unless these conditions are present.

Marriage…...

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