- Hrudhai Chand
Marry Your Rapist Laws
As horrendous and painstaking as it may sound, it's the unfortunate truth that many nations still continuously adopt and employ a 'Marry-Your-Rapist' sentiment. The literal meaning behind this is where victims of rape are asked to marry their rapists; once the marriage is accounted, all the charges against the perpetrator is lifted as now it is the duty of the now husband to take care of the children borne out of the wedlock to save the family’s repute and also to take care of his victim who’s now the wife.This outdated policy has been gaining a lot of momentum and catching a lot of headlines recently. It had also entered into the Supreme Court of India's chambers. Chief Justice Bobde had made a controversial remark when he suggested that all charges on the assaulter will be lifted if the assaulter agrees to marry the victim. He said, and I quote, "If you want to marry her, we can help you, if not you loose your job and you go to jail". Like all guilty people, he tried to cover up by playing the blame game when he said the media has grossly misreported him. Well, this isn't the first time representatives have placed the blame on the media for their benefit.
This archaic practise shares its roots to the crusaders of democracy - France, specifically the Napolean French era. The orientation of marry-your-rapist laws is spread through brutal colonialism, where this principle which the world was naïve of, distributed in the 1810’s by the French Armies. The Ottoman Empire also adopted a similar code in 1911, and they spread this rampantly. These concepts and ideas were cultivated in colonial areas by such initiations. This still poses a problem as many colonies have liberated themselves but continually retains these archaic laws.
One of the most profound reasons for the continued existence of such legislation is the patriarchal attitudes that are engulfed in our society and pose as one of the major hindrances to revoking such laws. It is rather the unfortunate truth that the survivor women whose representation wouldn't suffice in such decisive processes, results in many lawmakers cardinal belief that the existence of these laws are 'in order to protect the survivors' with little exempt do they know how much trauma and turmoil one would've faced to get through such a horrific event, but the torment to wake up to his face and call him your spouse is the agony one could only imagine.
The entire orthodoxical argument behind the justification of these marriages & other terrible crimes associated with this issue is interrelated with the whole concept that: women are still considered property of men and the concern of the reputation of women. The misogynistic ideal of women's virginity is affected, and women who have lost their virginity are considered as 'damaged goods. Also, mothers who are impregnated by rape need the father's financial support to be grown out of wedlock requires nay prerequisites marriage. These ideals are a testament to how much we as a society need to evolve our pre-Victorian era mindset and adapt it to the upcoming generations.
One would like to produce an example of an instance in 2012 to reiterate the importance of this issue. A girl named Amina Filali from Morrocco committed suicide by consuming rat poison when she was forced to marry a man who raped her when she was 15. She was physically and sexually assaulted and raped. This is the horrific truth and reality of many victims. These provisions are a double-edged sword as many young girls who are raped get stuck in this vicious cycle where they see no way they could eventually get out. Also, it allows rapists and sexual assaulters to freely commute and wander, putting the lives of more women at risk, them being a gateway to enter this cycle.
It is also argued that this issue is a thing of the past and slowly dying then, they are entirely and grossly mistaken. These cases still persist all across the globe. This issue is not a thing of the past but slowly cultivating and evolving, and it would be a horrendous blunder to be cognizant of it. Experts claim it is still hard to compile a list of nations that still have such provisions as the wording of these laws are very vague and could be easily left for interpretation. Still, they've collectively agreed these laws are accumulated in The Middle Eat and underdeveloped parts of African Nations.
1 in 3 women suffer from either physical or sexual violence. These numbers won't go anywhere down if there is a constant support to such patriarchally driven outdated laws. As time is progressing forwards, changes in society often fall stagnant, and the central pillars in this stagnancy are due to the persistence of such laws, which undo years of hard work and progress of women empowerment. The origin and the continued existence of these laws are a testimony of how far behind the practical application of the term 'gender-equality still is. It is essential for one to hold accountability, spread awareness and discuss such as to enhance empowerment. Repealing such laws might be a step in the right direction, but the change which has to be seen can't be fully fathomed until and unless patriarchial ideologies aren't reformed, or there would be too many Amina Filali's in the world to count.