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The Apex Court Verdict On Abortion Marks Big Step On Marital Rape.

All women, no matter married or not, are entitled to abortion rights. The Supreme Court also took a step towards defining marital rape; saying the exception given to husbands in definition of rape is legal fiction.

It stopped short of criminalising forcible sex by a husband; that’s the subject of a different case but said abortion would be allowed in such cases under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act. There will be no prerequisite of a case to be filed for sexual assault, rape or incest, it added.

Ordinary meaning of the word rape is sexual intercourse with a person without their consent.

A woman may get pregnant as a result of non-consensual sexual intercourse performed upon her by her husband. Existing Indian laws recognise forms of familial violence,” said the bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud. Married women may also form part of class of survivors of sexual assault or rape,” it added; Ordinary meaning of the word rape is sexual intercourse with a person without their consent or against their will; regardless of whether such forced intercourse occurs in the context of matrimony.

Notwithstanding Exception 2 to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code; the meaning of the words ‘sexual assault’ or ‘rape’ in Rule 3B (a) includes a husband’s act of sexual assault or rape committed on his wife.” the court said. The exception states that sexual intercourse by a man with his wife is not rape unless she is below 15. It must be underlined here that the exception will still exist;  today’s verdict does not mean a husband can be criminally prosecuted for marital rape. That’s the subject of a case that was last heard on September 16 and will next come up in February 2023. We would leave the constitutional validity (of the exception) to be decided in that or any other appropriate proceeding,” the court today said.

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