Supreme Court’s big decision over Marital Rape

SC says meaning of rape must be held, including marital rape, for purpose of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act


New Delhi: On Thursday, Supreme Court gave an important decision related to marital rape for unwanted pregnancy for abortion and held that rape under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act includes a husband’s act of sexual assault and rape committed on his wife. The court said that a woman who is pregnant by forcible sex by her husband will also be called a rape victim. The Supreme Court said that no criminal action is required to prove marital rape. A woman pregnant due to forced sex by her husband will also come under the category of a rape victim. The wife or the woman will have the monopoly to decide whether to keep such pregnancy or not. The court said that the married woman must be given physical autonomy and legal and social protection.

A bench of Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice AS Bopanna, and Justice JB Pardiwala, in its judgment, made it clear that Section 3(2)(b) of the MTP Act empowers termination of pregnancy between 20 and 24 weeks. But till now only rape victims had the right to terminate unwanted or raped pregnancies of their own free will, but now married women can also decide to abort or keep unwanted pregnancies due to forced sex of their husbands in married life. That is, now in the category of a rape victim, a married woman suffering from her husband can also be there.

Married women are being given this right because many biological changes take place in the woman’s body during pregnancy. The fetus receives its internal dose from the female body itself. It is associated with physical and mental emotions. Therefore, if the husband gives physical or mental torture to the woman during pregnancy, then it has a direct effect on the child. Therefore, by giving physical, legal, and social autonomy to the woman, she will be protected from this torture.

A Supreme Court bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud in a significant judgment held that “marital rape” should also be included in the meaning of rape under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act and Rules. The court said that the wives who conceive after forcible sexual intercourse by the husbands would also come under the purview of “sexual harassment or rape or victimization” mentioned in Rule 3B(a) of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Rules. Married women can also become part of the sexual assault or rape victim category.

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