Question of consent in relationships

NEW DELHI: Amid the raging debate around the criminalization of marital rape, the National Survey of Family Health released the results of a study that hinted at a possible shift toward progressivism, while offering disturbing glimpses of the minds of married men and women in the country.

The survey revealed that up to 80% of women and 66% of men believed that a woman in India was justified in rejecting amorous advances from a spouse for the following three reasons – namely, if the husband had a sexually transmitted disease (STD), if he had cheated on her, and this one hits the mark, if the woman was tired or not in the mood.

Yes, it’s a difficult conversation to have, and no, it’s not an inappropriate topic by any stretch of the imagination; not in a country with a high prevalence of domestic violence, which often involves an element of sexual assault.

Moreover, in 80% of cases of physical violence perpetrated against women, the aggressor happens to be the husband.

This conversation is all the more relevant at a time when, arguably for the first time in many decades, the issue of women’s consent is being furiously debated, and the torts that might normally have resulted in perpetrators ending up with a simple slap on the wrist are now receiving the weighting that is due.

Of course, it is not because the majority of women and a significant part of men have recognized the idea of ​​consent that a moment of victory in itself is announced.

As many as 44% of men and, shockingly, 45% of women believe that men are right to beat their wives because of one of at least seven given circumstances.