Even as women in India are fighting for equal rights and opportunities in their private and professional lives, there are several who continue to live with misconceptions about marriage and women. General Secretary of the Rashtriya Sevika Samiti, the women's wing of the RSS, Seetha Anandanam is one of them. If one is to go by her knowledge of the world, marital rape is not even a thing. It does not exist.
In an interview with The Indian Express, Anandanam has said, "There is nothing called marital rape. Marriage is a sacred bond. Coexistence should lead to bliss. If we are able to understand the concept of this bliss, then everything runs smooth."
Anandanam also thinks promoting "samskaras" and "prohibition" of alcohol will solve the problem of women's security and safety.
"The main problems are women's security, exploitation, dowry, ghunghat and female foeticide. The presence of an alcoholic man at home also causes problems. Men come home heavily drunk and don't undertake family responsibility. The entire responsibility falls on women. There should be total prohibition across the country. We are working for promoting samskaras in the society," she told The Indian Express.
Her comments don't come as a surprise. Anandanam, has in the past, made regressive statements with regards to women.
In August this year, she had said that there was no need for women to even fight for their rights.
"Women, instead of fighting for rights, should focus on their duties, on how they can hold the society together, impart patriotism to their children and family members," she had told The Economic Times.
Anandanam is not the only one in the RSS who thinks that a woman's place is down in the dumps. Chief Mohan Bhagwat doesn't believe in women's autonomy either.
Bhagwat has said more than once that women are supposed to be housewives and that men should be the breadwinners. He had also said that if the wife did not take care of "his house" the husband had the right to leave her.
Despite many attempts, criminalizing marital rape has hit roadblocks, including from the government.
On a question of whether the government planned to criminalise marital rape, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi had told the Rajya Sabha, "It is considered that the concept of marital rape, as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors like level of education/illiteracy, poverty, myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs, mindset of the society to treat the marriage as a sacrament, etc."
Under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code forced sex in a marriage is considered a crime only if the wife is under 15 years of age. "Sexual intercourse by man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape," says a clause under the law.