The Kerala High Court has recently ruled that marital rape is a recognised ground for divorce.

Marital Rape

Last updated on Apr 8, 2022

[Trigger Warning: The following content contains information on physical violence and sexual violence which some readers may find disturbing.]

Indian law does not criminalise marital rape. The law does not punish a husband for having forcible sexual intercourse with his wife without her consent, unless she is below eighteen years of age (a minor).(( Independent Thought v. Union of India, (2017) 10 SCC 800.))

So, any sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his adult wife is not rape.  However, this does not apply if a woman is living separately from her husband. If a couple is married, but living separately, then the husband is guilty of rape if his wife does not consent to sexual intercourse. In this case, the punishment for the husband is imprisonment between two and seven years, along with a fine.(( Section 376B, Indian Penal Code, 1860.))

Though the law does not punish marital rape, a woman can get relief under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005. This law criminalises sexual abuse, including any behaviour of a sexual nature that abuses, humiliates, degrades or violates the dignity of a woman.(( Section 3, Domestic Violence Act, 2005.)) To know more about the rights of a woman against domestic violence, read here.

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