Congress criticises Maneka Gandhi for making ‘insensitive’ marital rape remark

, 3:41 PM IST

New Delhi: The Congress Party on Saturday criticised Woman and Child Development (WCD) Minister Maneka Gandhi for making an `insensitive` statement on marital rape, saying that it is high time that the country looks into new laws to protect women.

“A rape is a rape, whether it is done by a husband or any other person. It should be criminalized. It is very unfortunate that the minister has given a very insensitive reply in the Parliament with regard to this issue. It is high time that the country looks into new laws to protect women,” Congress leader Shobha Oza told ANI.

In her first statement following her ministry`s controversial reply in the Rajya Sabha on marital rape, Maneka Gandhi has said that her ministry could consider taking a step towards criminalising marital rape if there are enough complaints.

The ministry came under fire last month over its reply in Parliament to a question on whether it plans to criminalise marital rape.The government had last year said that the concept of marital rape cannot be applied in India as marriage is treated as a sacrament or sacred as per mindset of the Indian society.

“It is considered that the concept of marital rape, as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors, including level of education, illiteracy, poverty, myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs, mindset of the society to treat the marriage as a sacrament,” Minister of State for Home Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary had said while replying to a written question of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) MP Kanimozhi in the Rajya Sabha.

Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with rape, makes an exception for such instances within marriages.It holds that “sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape”.