The Task Force on the Prevention and Elimination of Violence Against Women and girl child will soon be submitting their action plan to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe calling for the criminalization of marital rape.
The said Task Force was appointed by Wickremesinghe and their action plan-cum-report will also be based on the previous report compiled by the Island-wide Commission on the Prevention of Violence Against Women and Girls appointed by Wickremesinghe in 2013 during his tenure as the Leader of the Opposition.
The Chairperson of the said Task Force, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Colombo, Emeritus Professor of Law, Prof. Savitri Goonesekere said it was only through legal reforms that one could respond to the conduct of sexual violence within marriage and the act of marital rape, the latter which must be perceived as a form of abuse.
Even though the Task Force is making substantive recommendations to be followed through in policy planning, the issue right now is that the initiators which include line Ministries and Ministers and agencies are not clear about the matter, she explained.
Provisions in the Indian law with regards to marital rape provide a very limited definition, she observed.
Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code in defining rape provides an exception, “Sexual intercourse by a man with his wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape.”
In 1995, the matter was a controversial issue on which there was no consensus, she pointed out.