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Marital Rape Is Now Officially Legal In India

Judge Virender Bhat

Judge Virender Bhat

A judge in India has ruled that husbands who rape their wives are not violating any laws, effectively legalizing marital rape in the world’s largest democracy.

A Delhi court acquitted a man accused of raping his wife, stating that forced sexual intercourse is not rape if it is committed by a woman’s husband, the Times of India reports.

“The parties being husband and wife, the sexual intercourse between the two does not come within the ambit of the offense of rape, even if the same was against the will and consent of the victim,” Judge Virender Bhat wrote in his ruling.

The prosecution in the case alleged that a man, identified for his protection by only his first name Vikash, drugged a woman, kidnapped her and took her from Delhi to Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh to register their marriage. He then raped her and abandoned her, she told the court.

Judge Bhat found “no clinching or convincing evidence on record to show that the accused had administered any stupefying substance” to his victim. Bhat reiterated that “the sexual intercourse between the two, even if forcible, is not rape.”

Vikash claimed the couple had been married in 2011 at the woman’s Delhi home with her relatives in attendance, and that it was his victim’s idea to register their marriage later. He claimed the rape complaint was filed under duress because her family did not approve of their marriage, the New York Times reports.

The ruling was handed down in a special court established in the wake of the deadly December 2012 gang-rape of a 23-year-old student on a New Delhi bus. That horrific attack sparked global outrage and demands that Indian authorities do more to protect women from sexual violence.

Judge Bhat has a history of making controversial statements about female sexuality.

“Girls are morally and socially bound not to indulge in sexual intercourse before a proper marriage, and if they do so, it would be to their peril and they cannot be heard crying later that it was rape,” he wrote in an October 2012 judgement.

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