Marriage, intimate relationship not a defence for rape: Justice Verma panel
This extract from a foreign judgement was endorsed by the Justice J S Verma committee in its report as it said that marriage or any other intimate relationship between a man and a woman is "not a valid" defence against sexual crimes like rape.
The three-member panel, which was constituted to recommend amendments to criminal laws in the wake of the national outrage over the December 16 gangrape here, has sought "an exception for the definition of marital rape in the existing laws".
"The law ought to specify that a marital or other relationship between the perpetrator or victim is not a valid defence against the crimes of rape or sexual violation," the committee recommended yesterday in its report to the government.
The committee also prescribed that the "relationship between the accused and the complainant is not relevant to the inquiry into whether the complainant consented to the sexual activity and the fact that the accused and victim are married or in another intimate relationship may not be regarded as a mitigating factor justifying lower sentences for rape."
The panel relied heavily on the judgements made by courts in various countries.
"Our view is supported by the judgement of the European Commission of Human Rights in C.R. v UK, which endorsed the conclusion that a rapist remains a rapist regardless of his relationship with the victim," the 630-page report said, slamming the prevailing notions on this subject.
"The exemption for marital rape stems from a long out-dated notion of marriage which regarded wives as no more than the property of their husbands.
"According to the common law of coverture, a wife was deemed to have consented at the time of the marriage to have intercourse with her husband at his whim. Moreover, this consent could not be revoked," the committee said.