“Ba ba ,But that’s not the problem Aavya ” stammers Manavi as she talks to her best friend on the phone. “Be loud, I’m driving and you know how this effing traffic works here in Bangalore” says the voice on the other side. Manavi is still horrified, her eyes red and wet from demanding mercy, her neck still has marks from the car keys the same ones which her parents gifted her during her marriage, “Manu, beta ye tum dono k liye. Honda hai jaisa tu bachpan me manga krti thi” ( Manu, this is for you, it’s Honda as you often demanded for it when young)she remembers her proud father say as she tries to forget what has now been the second time of Jayant using force on her to have sex.
There she sits in the kitchen after making sure she has locked each and every door of the house, sees hallucinations of Jayant coming drunk and tearing her saree as she screams for help. “Manu, what’s the problem sweety?All’s well? should I come visit you?”Aavya sounds concerned. Manavi, still covering herself with her bed sheet which still has bloodstains afresh, looks around the locked house in horror, guarantees that there’s no one in the house and manages to say ” Aavya, come over please. Please be home RIGHT NOW. Just come” and starts shedding tears again. ” Wait, I’ll be there in 20 minutes.” Manavi awkwardly hangs up the phone and starts looking at what has left of her body. She knows she needs medical attention but is still recovering from the shock of what happened the first time which was exactly 20 days ago. She remembers it all starkly. She was all dressed up for going out with Jayant as he had promised her. The door bell rang. She rushed excitedly. Jayant smelled of liquor and started groping her. “Let me go Jay, what are you trying to do”. Jayant responded with pushing her inside, banging her head on the glass painting against the wall. “Stop it, Jay” but there was no way out. What she remembers last was her being covered in blood and since that day she had hated the sight of him.She got traumatized by watching the COLOUR RED- the colour which represented love,her wedding,blood and everything traumatizing. His calls scared her to death.Living with him was becoming a habit, though.She would never utter a word, would never sleep in the same room.Damn, living with the rapist was a tough task.Divorce was never an option considering what would happen to her mother!She was a heart patient and would not be able to take the shock.She slept in the store-room that red day, the day when blood came out non-stop from her body. Locked herself inside,still shocked with disbelief. She looked at her hands which were roped, touched her head which still had glass pieces, somehow summoned the strength to tie a handkerchief around her head and lamented there, all by herself. That first rape night left a deep injury and Manavi was scared and started acting weirdly. Aavya was informed about “the unfortunate accident” and Manavi was taken to the hospital. He had faked an apology the very next morning at the hospital. Took her to a doctor he knew and got the case cloistered. She recovered from the physical pain in 12 days or so but to the mental agony there was no end. She refused meeting Jay and so Jay informed Aavya, and she would come comfort her. Manavi was told to go home on the 11th day but refused to leave the hospital. Jayant employed Aavya to get Manavi back to the house. He succeeded in doing that, atleast. He made several attempts to get her to talk to him but she never looked at his face since that day. Excruciation flashbacks, the colour red inflicted heavy mental pain on her. She decided to let go of this feeling, to tell someone.But, who would that someone be?
Scared, she was less of the monster who would live with her and more of what others would say if she came out. “Are pati-patni k beech toh ye chalta hai. Zarurat kya hai har cheez ko thane laane ki madam“ ( This is a normal thing between a husband and wife. What’s the need of bringing evrything up to us, ma’am?), is what the policeman would say she thought. Who should she share all of this with? ‘Mom is a heart patient cannot tell her. Do not have any sibling. Maybe, I should stay silent.’ She chalked all the possibilities in her mind. Jayant had never been the man of her dreams, hers had been an arranged marriage, typical India style. Fathers of the bride and groom knew each other well.. And, umm that was it. She had completed her Masters in Journalism and was the lead reporter at NDTV Profit. Her brown eyes,fair complexion and curly locks were enough to make every guy of her company crush on her.It was Jayant who eyed her,initiated talks at his home and the rest you may know. In no time Manavi was in the RED “shaadi-ka-joda”sent by her in-laws. She was 26 and Jayant was 28. Jayant was always bossy, disrespectful and rude, even before her marriage. She had met him thrice before their marriage and never quite liked him. For keeping her parent’s heart, however she agreed for the marriage.
SHE HAD TO LIVE WITH THE RAPIST. See him demand food, throw plates and cutlery, abuse her on a daily basis. “Maybe this all happened because he was drunk, he won’t repeat it,I know” is what she told herself the first time.She had finally made up her mind after some days and now this had happened. AGAIN!This time she was not even hospitalized and Jayant left her strangling on the floor and fled. The door bell rang. A sudden shiver ran down her spine. ”Is the fucking rapist back?”, she asked herself. She did not answer the door. The door bell rang again and now the person outside the door was kicking the door and cursing. Manavi went and locked herself in the bathroom. Her phone vibrated and to her relief it was Aavya on the door. She’d come. Ohh what a relief! She was still bleeding and somehow managed to answer the door. Aavya looking at all the blood-shed straightaway called the doctor and in the hospital got to know everything. They registered an F.I.R against Jayant but were shocked when their lawyer told them that “Marital rape is not punishable under law” Aavya in angst shouted back ” WHAT? Can a husband not rape his wife! We have the proof ma’am“. Geeta, their lawyer repeated “ Marital rape is not an offence in India. Despite amendments, law commissions and new legislations, one of the most humiliating and debilitating acts is not an offence in India.Jayant cannot be tried for marital rape, because it does not exist in the eyes of the law“.
One year has passed, Jayant is still looked for. Geeta, Aavya and Manavi on the other hand are part of the many feminist groups demanding change in the rape laws in India. Manavi started journalism again and is now being acknowledged for her struggle against rape and marital rape laws as she works closely with feminist groups and human rights NGOs.
A marriage is a relationship based on love and honesty. A husband forcing himself, by getting sexual pleasures on demand and through any means possible, is not part of marriage or a healthy relationship. Surprisingly, this is not, as yet, in any law book in India. ‘Educating boys and men to view women as valuable partners in life, in the development of society and the attainment of peace are just as important as taking legal steps protect women’s human rights’, says the UN. (source: ILJ)
The very definition of rape (section 375 of IPC) should be changed! And the letter of the law should change for the better! 2.6 Billion women live in countries where marital rape is legal! What could be a more direct infringement of their human rights!