On 5 May, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi altered her stance on marital rape yet again, saying that incorporating cases of marital rape within the legal framework would put stress on the family system and strain family ties, according to a News18 report.
This is completely in contrast with the statements she made on the issue of criminalisation of marital rape while addressing the media on 19 April at the launch of the 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao' campaign in 61 additional districts.
Manekha had then talked about the centre's resolve to criminalise rape that occurs within the institution of marriage.
When asked if there was an attempt to push for criminalisation of marital rape, she responded saying "now there is".
Flip-flop on marital rape law
In March this year, Maneka Gandhi dismissed speculation around the criminalisation of marital rape, and had said that marital rape was not an issue that could be legislated upon in the Indian context.
"It is considered that the concept of marital rape, as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors eg level of education/illiteracy, poverty, religious beliefs, mindset of the society to treat the marriage as a sacrament," she had said, talking about the issue on the Rajya Sabha floor on 10 March.
Criminalisation of marital rape was one of the recommendations of the Justice Verma committee, which was set up to answer the demand for stronger legislation on crime against women following the Nirbhaya gang rape. It had included the need for criminalisation of marital rape as one of it's recommendations.
The Home Ministry has instructed the Law Commission to deliberate on the issue of marital rape during the course of its comprehensive review of the criminal justice system.