“Supreme Court gives judgement that sex on false promise of marriage is rape!”
We all have seen this headline at one point or another. It stems from Section 90 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), an extract of which is following-
…A consent is not such a consent as it intended by any section of this Code, if the consent is given by a person under fear of injury, or under a misconception of fact, and if the person doing the act knows, or has reason to believe, that the consent was given in consequence of such fear or misconception…
Source: Indian Kanoon
Breaking through the legal jargon, the main point of focus which allows courts to convict a man of rape despite having consensual sex with a woman simply due to a mere promise to marry is because the woman was informed about a possibility of marriage in the future which helped her decide on whether or not to engage in premarital sex with the man.
For a lot of you, the above sentence would be enough to understand everything wrong with this law. Yet, let me elaborate on how it compromises the lives of men using the following two very common scenarios covered by this law:-
- A man and a woman (both adults) were in a relationship, obviously intending to marry. Hence, they engaged in consensual premarital sex. However, due to certain circumstances, whether it was of parents not agreeing or because of incompatibility issues, the man decided to break off the relationship. This caused the girl to lodge a complaint against the man. The man was deemed a rapist by the court due to the above law and lost all his reputation and mental peace.
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This seems like a straightforward enough scenario of how this law hurt a man for absolutely no reason, right? Now, let us look at another scenario where the man did do something immoral and yet does not deserve to be called a rapist.
- A man and a woman (both adults) engage in consensual premarital sex because the man convinced the woman that he would marry her in future, even though he had no intention of doing so. When he came clean about the false promise he had made, the woman went to court against him and the man was deemed a rapist.
In this case, even though the man definitely did something immoral by making a false promise, it is unfair to deem him a rapist. It is important to remember that the law does not recognise a promise as a contract. We all have had people in our lives who made false promises/failed to deliver the promises they made. Most probably, we all have made false promises or not been able to deliver a promise too. But can we go to the court to enforce such promises? Obviously not! Then why should it be different just because a woman had consensual sex due to the false promise?
Feminists argue that the woman deserves ‘justice’ as India has a very conservative society where sex is a big taboo. In fact, a particularly loud-mouthed feminist I had come across even went so far as to say (and I quote) that ‘the woman was used and thrown’, as if the woman did not absolutely consent to the act (even if under a misconception of marriage)!
While I agree that sex is indeed a very sensitive topic in our society, it is the responsibility of individual women to take this into consideration when they choose to make the decision of having premarital sex. It is wrong to take matters of unenforceable promises to the courts. An adult consenting woman must rely on her own judgement of the man (and the validity of his promise) when she takes the risk of engaging in premarital sex while being the part of a conservative society. What do these feminists mean to imply by seeking ‘justice’ in such issues? That adult women should not be held accountable for their own errors in judgement? On one hand we are fighting for women to be seen as independent individuals capable of making their own choices, and on another hand these feminists are asking women to be treated as damsels in distress!
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An easy way to understand the unfairness of deeming men as rapists (a tag which brings a lot of trauma and decimates reputation) is to modify the situation:-
There are some women out there, called gold diggers, who date men only to make the man spend money on them. It is a universal fact that dating is a precursor to marriage. These gold diggers extract as much money as possible from their boyfriends before ending the relationship (which they had no intention of taking seriously anyway). Does that mean that these gold digging women should be convicted for thievery? Of course not!
Change is definitely gradually coming as can be seen from the cases below:-
- High Court observes: Sex on a false promise of marriage does not constitute rape (Read Judgment)
- Not Every Failed Promise Amounts to Rape, Rules SC on Sex With Vow to Marry
However, our courts still allows persecution of men if the woman hails from an uneducated background, which continues to remain unfair. After all, education is not a requirement to understand the social repercussions of one’s actions. As humans brought up in a society, all of us are able to perceive the dynamics of how our society functions, all by ourselves. Education plays no role in this. Yet, there still continue to remain many examples of men being arrested/convicted in such senseless cases:-
- Sex on false promise of marriage is rape: Supreme Court
- Mathrubhumi senior journo Amal Vishnudas arrested for alleged sexual harassment of junior
- CEO Of Ozone Gym Arrested For Allegedly Raping Woman He Met On Facebook
It is high time that we speak up about a law so unjust towards men!
About the Author:
Sambhavi Mishra is a first year student at the University of Delhi. Her keen interest in gender issues led her to start posting articles about men’s issues and the toxicity spread by modern feminism. She identifies herself as an antifeminist egalitarian and writes extensively about these topics on Quora, and now on Medium as well. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking and baking.
* Views expressed by the author are her own