Folks, it's still 2017.
Let's just put it out there, in case the sane-minded among us mistakenly believed that they'd fallen through a wormhole and travelled back in time, after reading the grossness masquerading as an opinion on Governor Swaraj's Twitter timeline.
Swaraj Kaushal, for the uninitiated, is Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj's husband. If the fact that a Union Minister's husband would feel comfortable enough to publicly scoff at the idea of marital rape wasn't disappointing enough in its own right, it is pretty close to horrifying that he is also a senior Supreme Court advocate.
Kaushal's disgusting declaration on Twitter was in response to a tweet by an Amit Choudhary who questioned if Kaushal was defending marital rape when he tweeted, "There will be more husbands in the jail, than in the house," while sharing an article by Live Law about the Centre's affidavit to the Delhi High Court stating that criminalising marital rape would destabilise the institution of marriage.
It is mind-boggling that even in this day and age, with the overwhelming amount of research and data available to prove that sexual violence within the marriage is an endemic problem in our country, public figures like Kaushal can be so thoughtless in their pronouncements.
In 2014, the United Nations Population Fund and the International Center for Research on Women surveyed more than 9,205 men across seven Indian states and found that one-third of them had forced a sexual act on their wives at least once in their lives. Another 2014 report, by researcher Aashish Gupta of the Rice Institute, found that women are 40 times more likely to be sexually assaulted by their husband than a stranger. The last National Family Health Survey (2005-2006), conducted among 1,24,385 women across all Indian states, found that 10 percent women had been physically forced by their husbands to have sex. Statistically, less than 3 percent of the sexual violence experienced in India is by men other than their husbands.
Perhaps Kaushal would like to tell all these women that the horrors of their reality are nothing but figments of their imaginations.
In the face of such brazen sexism, tone-deafness and insensitivity, one can only say that yes, Mr Kaushal, husbands that rape their wives deserve to be in jail, not at home. Let's just pray that some day soon, Kaushal and his ilk will understand this very basic tenet of decency and civilised behaviour.
Thankfully, possibly due to the blowback from his regressive tweet, Kaushal has revoked access to his timeline.
The Centre's contention is that if marital rape was criminalised, the law would become an "easy tool harass husbands", since there can be "no lasting evidence in case of sexual acts between a man and his own wife."
Currently, section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which defines the offence of rape, has an exception clause that says the intercourse or sexual act by a man with his wife, not below 15 years, is not a rape. Last month, delivering a severe blow to women's rights, a two-member bench of the Supreme Court said that marital rape cannot be considered an offence, while hearing a plea questioning the constitutionality of permitting a man to have sex with his minor wife who is between 15 to 18 years of age.
Basically, the law literally allows a man to rape his wife in India. And yet, what our great polity is preoccupied with is protecting the sanctity of marriage, and even more so, the men who may or may not be harassed in the future by a hypothetical law to protect thousands of women from a heinous crime.
Again, folks, we're still in 2017, as hard as it might be to believe, given this specific incident.