New Delhi: Women rights` groups have flayed Delhi High court`s observation that sexual relations between a legally wedded husband and wife, "even if forcible, is not rape", saying this will lead to the rise in incidents of marital rape.
Expressing concern, the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) said that this verdict will have a very negative impact on women, especially married women, as it will encourage and perpetuate the alarmingly increasing menace of marital rape.
"The verdict and position of the court is nothing but the manifestation of the patriarchal mindset which always stands in the way of gender equality," said NFIW General Secretary, Annie Raja.
"When the entire women`s movement and the people who believe in the importance of gender equality is campaigning and agitating to make marital rape a crime, NFIW consider that this verdict of the Delhi court is highly retrograde," Raja added.
Jagmati Sangwan, General Secretary of All India Democratic Women`s Association (AIDWA) also criticised the court`s observation saying it is highly "regressive".
"The observation is clearly contrary to the spirit of women`s rights that are being consistently raised. Consent of an individual be married or single is important in sexual relationships," Sangwan said.
"We have been consistently demanding that rape in marriage must be considered as violence and we have demanding that law should punish anyone who rapes in marriage. This observation has gone against our stand as a women`s group," said Jyotsna Chatterjee, director of Joint Women`s Programme.
Delhi High Court yesterday had acquitted a youth who was accused of marrying a 21-year-old girl after serving her a sedative-laced drink and raping her.