Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other types of sexual penetration, carried out against a person without the person’s consent- according to Wikipedia. It’s a kind of forced sexual intercourse which is applicable both for men and women.
However according to the “gender roles” of India and many other countries around the globe, only men rape women and the main problem with this sexual assault is “virginity”, without which, women are considered impure and “second hand” in society. Due to the same mentality, sexual harassment on men are rarely reported, of course because they neither have any hymen to lose nor will they get pregnant. This problem of “virginity” of a woman, as the only problem due to rape, is the reason of evolution of the term marital rape.
Logically and according to definition, no such term can exist. Sexual assault by anyone is considered rape, irrespective of their relationship with each other. How can society condemn rapists but silently make a separate category out there called “husbands” who have the exclusive rights on the bodies of their “wives” …??
This process starts from the very process of “Kanya daan”- donation of a girl to her husband (also considered as her guardian and owner), by her father- an integral part of Hindu weddings. To speak about the whole female gender, irrespective of religion and community, they are always taught to consider themselves to be their father’s, brother’s, husband’s or son’s property (according to the Hindu text, Manusmriti and society in general). This feeling of superiority in males and inferiority in females, gives men the courage to force themselves on their partners as and when they want, without the consent of the other person. This also happens when men look upon women as more of a sex object and less of an individual human being. These cases hardly get reported as girls mostly consider this as a right of their husbands and very normal in married life.
The main cause of concern is that Marital rape has been separated from rape due to the husband wife relationship, which is totally illogical as the term “Rape” doesn’t take into consideration, the relationship between the victim and the culprit. Any kind of forced sexual activity on any human being, irrespective of gender, community or relation is considered to be rape.
Male sexual entitlement is the major cause of all kinds of sexual abuse on women specially rape in marriage. In several parts of the world, the idea of manliness being proved by intense sexual desire and sexual right on any woman as they want, is the primary cause of rape which is accompanied by victim shaming. The idea of objectifying women as sex toys and male private property causes all kinds of sexual harassment, specially if the woman is his wife. Then he takes it to be his moral right completely supported and even encouraged by society to keep up the “normal” husband wife relationship. Several nations around the world has exempted marital rape from legal course of action as it is believed that a licit marriage gives right to conjugal life and the issues of abusive relationships or spouse rape, contradicts the basic idea of marriage. This problem arises when individuality is given least or no importance in legal relationships, specially marriage. Individual rights and opinions are curtailed by age old beliefs, contract of marriage and roles of spouses in a relationship decided by society. Where it is considered to be the duty of men to feed and protect his family, it is considered to be the duty of a wife to look after the family and please her husband, with her domestic skills as well as her body, as and when he wants it. “Marital” rape as a social problem, will remain till women are taught to think themselves as a property and men are looked upon as their owners.