NEW DELHI: Can a law criminalising marital rape be successful in India? No, says National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam.
“Rape is rape and all over the world, 92 per cent rapes are committed by people you know. But they are not reported,” Kumaramangalam told The Sunday Standard. In India, a law on marital rape would be good. “But would the cases be reported?” she questioned. “In this country, the concept of marital rape doesn’t exist. So, I don’t know how effective this law can be in terms of implementation,” the chief of the women’s commission said. “I, as a woman, can say that women should have the right to say no,” she added.
Kumaramangalam said that the NCW was “ambivalent” about this law as she felt that though marital rape could be made criminal, it cannot be implemented. “It would never be allowed in this country,” she said.
The Justice Verma commission, which had been formed to look into laws on violence against women in the aftermath of the December 16, 2012, gang rape, had recommended a separate law on marital rape.
Touching on other topics, the NCW chairperson said that she agreed with Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi that it would be a good idea to keep a watch on the juvenile convicted in the December 16 gang rape case.
“Legally, we cannot do anything to keep him in jail. But I think it will be a good idea to keep a watch on the juvenile after his release,” she said as there were also reports that he has been “talibanised”.
She felt that if the juvenile was kept under watch and knew about it, it would deter him from doing anything wrong. However, Kumaramangalam said: “Instead of him (the juvenile) reporting to the police station, maybe some representative from the government can check on him once or twice a week as to what all he is doing.”
Speaking on the powers of the women’s commission, which has been described by many as toothless, she said a bill which was supposed to enable powers of “search and seizure” to the NCW on the lines of those vested with the National Human Rights Commission was yet to get the clearance from a group of ministers. “The bill is stuck on powers of search and seizure. They say that only somebody with judicial exposure can have these powers. “What we have demanded is that even if the commission is not given the said powers, give us at least powers to recommend the arrest of persons and search of places,” Kumaramangalam said. However, she added: “We also have to exercise caution on this.”
For 57-year-old Kumaramangalam, who is a member of the National Executive of the BJP, said that they are now ‘pushing for the surrogacy bill’.