As the Delhi High Court examines a slew of petitions regarding the criminalization of marital rape, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi stated on Sunday that “consent is among society’s most underrated concepts” and that it must be prioritised to safeguard women’s safety.
The comments come as the high court hears petitions brought by NGOs RIT Foundation and All India Democratic Women’s Association, seeking to overturn the Indian rape law’s exception for husbands.
Some men’s rights organisations have also filed petitions opposing the pleas to dismiss the exception, claiming that there was no question of discrimination and that Parliament had retained the provision in light of the broader perspective of Indian society.
In an earlier affidavit submitted in the case, the central government stated that marital rape should not be considered a criminal offence because it may destabilise the institution of marriage and serve as an easy weapon for harassing husbands.
According to the Delhi government, marital rape is already classified as a “crime of cruelty” under the Indian Penal Code.
The constitutionality of the marital rape exception under section 375 IPC has been challenged by a petitioner NGO on the grounds that it discriminates against married women who are sexually abused by their husbands.