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MRAs in India are protesting a proposed marital rape law. And Men’s Rights Redditors are on their side

Indian MRAs, standing up for the supposed “right” to rape their wives

In India, there is a specific exemption in the rape laws that makes it legal for a man to rape his wife, provided she is over the age of consent; if she’s old enough to consent, in other words, her consent )or, rather, the lack thereof) is irrelevant. At the moment an Indian high court is considering getting rid of the exemption. Not so fast, say Indian MRAs, who have been publicly protesting for their continued “right” to rape their wives.

You might think that MRAs in the west would look askance at the actions of their Indian brothers; surely legal marital rape is a bridge too far, even for, say, the regulars in the Men’s RIghts subreddit.

But Men’s Rights Redditors are standing with their Indian counterparts on this issue. When one Men’s RIghts Redditor asked the men of the Men’s RIghts subreddit to denounce the Indian pro-marriage rape rallies, he was greeted with open hostility. “Can we denounce this? ” he asked plaintively. “Men’s rights shouldn’t be used to justify marital rape.”

The response? A big “no.”

“What they are protesting is the probability of the misuse of the laws,” reads the top comment in the thread. “They are not advocating marital rape. That’s a dirty straw man to use.”

That’s a bit of a stretch. Any law could be misused, from laws against littering to laws against murder; should we therefore abolish all laws?

“So you declaring, you are officially against men’s rights now?” responded another commenter.

Still other respondents were deeply upset at the very notion of denouncing fellow MRAs. “Men’s right isn’t obligated to denounce things,” responded an indignant commenter called g1455ofwater.

Pressuring men’s rights to do that is bullying and inequality. It’s a form of control those in power use to control people with less power. They don’t care about what’s right or wrong they just want to demonize men.

So asking men to denounce India’s marital rape exemption is … bullying? Schoolyard bullies the world around need to be notified of this fact; they can expand their repertoire.

One commenter declared that there was nothing to see here, literally.

“Denounce what, exactly?” asked the deliberately obtuse EsraYmssik.

You haven’t posted a link to a story, only YOUR version of a story.

The OP posted a link to a discussion in another subreddit — that linked directly to a news story with a photograph of the protesters. (The same photo I used for the graphic for this post.) . Two clicks, that’s all it takes to get there.

All I can see from the thumbnail is some people holding a large piece of paper.

Could be lottery winners posing with a cheque for all I know.

The photo is actually quite a large one. If you blow it up a little bit you can see exactly what the sign — half of which is in English — says, including the name and phone number of the group standing literally behind it.

Apparently more Indian men have committed suicide over false rape accusations than died in the Holocaust.

I’m not sure I agree with you a hundred percent on your research work, there, Indian MRAs.

But it shouldn’t be all that surprising that Men’s Rights Redditors are opposed to India recognizing marital rape as rape. Back when marital rape laws were still an issue in the United States, prominent MRAs warned of the exact same (supposed) danger. In The Myth of Male Power, the 1993 book that gave the modern Men’s Rights movement most of its talking points, Warren Farrell denounced marital rape laws as a deadly weapon in the hands of dastardly false-accusing women.

“Spousal rape legislation gives the woman a nuclear bomb.” he wrote.

Both sexes engage in “mercy sex.” And that’s the difference between having a relationship and not having a relationship — all good relationships require “giving in,” especially when our partner feels strongly. The Ms. [magazine] survey can call it a rape; a relationship counselor will call it a relationship.

Spousal rape legislation is blackmail waiting to happen.

He’s written some similarly lovely things about date rape too.

Sometimes I forget just how horrendously retrograde Warren Farrell really is; I guess I should thank the men of the Men’s Rights subreddit for reminding me.

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Contrapangloss
Contrapangloss
3 months ago

Congratulations! That’s great. Good luck picking the offer that will bring you the greatest satisfaction. 🙂

bumblebug
bumblebug
3 months ago

@Surplus Thanks!! I’m still trying to not get too excited since it’s not official. But I’m super excited about both companies and their mission statements (one is in the medical field and the other focuses on carbon recycling). It’s nice to have a career change coming up after realizing during the pandemic that teaching is just not for me.

bumblebug
bumblebug
3 months ago

@Everyone You guys are all awesome! Thanks for the congratulations!!!

Kat, ambassador, feminist revolution (in exile)
Kat, ambassador, feminist revolution (in exile)
3 months ago

@bumblebug

Terrific news! All best wishes.

Kat, ambassador, feminist revolution (in exile)
Kat, ambassador, feminist revolution (in exile)
3 months ago

Hey, Indian MRAs, some of you look grim — like every photo I’ve seen of MRAs in the West (unless they’re indulging in drunken glee, specifically the MRA get-together at a restaurant a few years ago). And some of you are smiling broadly, maybe even laughing.

Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.

You’re all of you, to a man, super afraid of a woman with equal rights. How will you keep her down if you don’t have the right to rape her or deprive her of a job or an education or self-esteem or bodily integrity or her own money or friends and family or control over her own reproduction.

And if you can’t keep her down, she might achieve more than you and she might be happier than you and she might leave you. Better keep that woman down at all costs. Your own sense of self-worth — puffed up by sexism — depends on it.

Elaine The Witch
Elaine The Witch
3 months ago

@bumblebug

That’s wonderful and so exciting! I’m so happy for you!

Battering Lamb
Battering Lamb
3 months ago

@Bumble: Congrats on the job offers. Hope they pan out into satisfying experiences!

Masse_Mysteria
Masse_Mysteria
3 months ago

@sunnysombrera
Yeah, I wouldn’t expect them to care about it.

@Alan
It’s not your job to educate me on this, but there’s something I’ve been wondering about marital rape criminalisation, and I was wondering if you’d be able to clear it up? I’ll try to put in a spoiler tag.

Overlapping legislation
Finland criminalised marital rape only in the 1990’s, and that’s occasionally brought up as having been too late. I once came across a rant where a guy complained about this, arguing that since rape in itself was already illegal, there was no need to criminalise marital rape. From what I’ve read about this, prior to changing the law, if a man raped his wife and was convicted, the conviction was for some other offence and not for rape (battering or something?).

My assumption here is that the important point was to call the thing by its real name and send a message that wives are human too. But legally speaking, is there usually a convention for not enacting new laws when old ones are applicable? This has been coming up now that there’s talk of criminalising female genital mutilation, which is already illegal since it counts as child abuse and whatnot.

Alan Robertshaw
3 months ago

@ mass mysteria

It’s not your job to educate me 

Oh, you know me, alway happy to ramble.

I’ll also use a spoiler tag.

Ramble ensues…
I can only speak from an English law perspective of course; but you identify a point that does come up a lot in law; and it’s not always straight forward.

It’s not uncommon here to have overlapping offences. That crops up a lot whenever there’s a moral panic about an issue. So, for example, we have at least three separate laws banning people from carrying knives.

Sometimes laws are enacted that target a specific issue, even if really the ‘mischief’ (as we quaintly put it) could have been addressed by an existing offence. Like when they enacted some terrorism legislation here, a lot of us commented that we never realised planting bombs must have been legal before.

(This is one of my favourite “Well, show me where it says I can’t” examples https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/7/crossheading/nuclear-explosions )

Oftentimes though that’s either to avoid any lacunas in the law that new technology might create, or to impose a specific sentencing regime for that particular offence.

There’s also, in common law countries, a doctrine called ‘implied repeal’. The idea there is, if a new law seems to cover the same ground as an existing one, we assume the earlier one is no longer in force.

That can create ambiguity though, so now criminal legislation tends to have sections dealing with ‘transitional arrangements’. That will set out exactly what someone should be charged with depending on what date they committed the offence.

That’s to avoid ‘retroactive legislation’ which is generally not allowed under both common law and the ECHR (although, as you might have guessed, again it’s not always straight forward; cf the Nuremberg Trials). The general rule though is you can only be prosecuted, and sentenced, based on the law at the time you committed the offence.

Hope that helps.

Like I say, this is something that does tax lawyers and the courts, so that was a very good question. Happy to address any follow up queries you may have.

As to the history of marital rape law here; this isn’t a bad summary:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R_v_R

Last edited 3 months ago by Alan Robertshaw
epitome of incomrepehensibility

I know this post was a few days ago, but Farrell’s idea that

all good relationships require “giving in,”

is bothering me, because it’s taking something that might make sense – compromise and cooperation – and turning it into a justification for abuse, which is all sorts of gross.

Like, the so-called “giving in” should be a consenting decision, not something that one person imposes on another.

E.g. someone can agree to sexy stuff when they’re tired and would rather go to sleep sooner, but that doesn’t mean that the other person (in Farrell’s example, most likely a man) gets to insist on their partner doing that. I mean, this should be obvious??

Masse_Mysteria
Masse_Mysteria
3 months ago

@ Alan

Thanks!
Thanks! It’s all interesting stuff. Especially the nuclear explosions. (“Section 1 shall apply to acts done in the United Kingdom or elsewhere.”)

It occurred to me right after sending my last message that I was perhaps giving the ranter too much credit by expecting him to know that (apparently) marital rapists were previously convicted for things other than rape itself. Also might be of interest to him (and all other men) that even after marital rape was criminalised, according to the legislation, only girls and women could be raped, so it’s probably good that laws are updated.

I should probably just try to reread up on how Finnish legislation works. I just today read that sometimes, when you’re reporting on someone making threats on your life and wellbeing, the police might advice you to report for defamation instead of “illegal threats”, even though getting a conviction for the former is a lot harder than for the latter.

… would probably help if my last run-in with this stuff wasn’t just about copyright laws in library settings, where some of the reading we had was like “well strictly speaking this thing violates copyright, but the practice benefits everyone so you’re not going to get into trouble if you do this”.

@ epitome of incomrepehensibility
Also of note that “giving in” couldn’t possibly mean that the party wanting to have sex agrees to not have sex. All good relationships require people giving in to my whims! It’s just common courtesy.

Last edited 3 months ago by Masse_Mysteria
kupo
kupo
3 months ago

@Lumipuna
That’s an unfair characterization of American ads. We also have ads from lawyers looking to use us as pawns for big class-action lawsuits where we’ll get a dollar to their millions (especially common for mesothelioma; that one must be easy to win!), and sometimes Matt Damon tries to convince us that crypto investors are comparable to astronauts. It’s not just ads for drugs with questionable side effects and sad pillow fascists!

Edit: forgot the /s, if that wasn’t clear! 😄

Last edited 3 months ago by kupo
Lumipuna
Lumipuna
3 months ago

Masse Mysteria,

I just got around to digging up some history of Finnish legislation on rape – this is something I’ve wondered about before.

Finnish Wikipedia article on marital rape (raiskaus avioliitossa) is very brief, but it suggests that rape in general wasn’t criminalized until around 1970 (!) and then only the rape of women (as you noted). Even then, the 1971 law explicitly excludes married women as victims (I just confirmed this, see below).

Wikipedia cites a recent thesis work on the history of rape legislation in Finland. It’s not online, but you can see a summary here:

Raiskaussääntelyn muutokset 1960-luvulta nykypäivään (helsinki.fi)

Indeed, the marital exception was repealed in 1994 and men were included as victims in 1999. I found the text of the 1994 update, which quotes the repealed moment from 1971 (at the bottom) and gives revised versions for a couple other moments:

Laki rikoslain 20 luvun muuttamisesta 316/1994 – Säädökset alkuperäisinä – FINLEX ®

Here is a chronological list of general updates in section 39 of the criminal law:

39/1889 – Säädösmuutosten hakemisto – FINLEX ®

Apparently, the “foundation” of the current criminal law is from 1889, when sex outside marriage (as opposed to rape) was still considered a mutual offense against the social fabric, or somesuch. AFAIK this was repealed in 1926, or well before the criminalization of rape.

Lumipuna
Lumipuna
3 months ago

Content warning for continued pondering on the legal aspects of rape.

On previous page, Alan noted that rapes are difficult to prosecute, because you need to prove not only that sexual act happened (and was against the victim’s consent), but that the perpetrator knew it was nonconsensual (or was at least reckless about consent, depending on jurisdiction). This again ties to a recent Finnish debate, which is mentioned in the Finnish language thesis summary above. IDK if similar debate is currently ongoing for English, US etc. law.

On
Traditionally in Sweden and Finland, the legal definition of rape requires some kind physical force, threat or intimidation. I understand this is so because otherwise the victim is assumed to be consenting (even if they’re saying “no”) if they just lay still and don’t try to physically reject the act. Some exceptions apply; for example an incapacitated person is assumed to be nonconsenting by default.

In 2018, Sweden reportedly expanded the definition of rape to include any relevant act that is “against the victim’s consent”. In 2019 a similar reform was initiated by petition in Finland. I haven’t followed the debate in technical detail, and I’m badly confused on what exactly is meant by “consent” here in legal sense. Lots of other commentators seem to be confused, too. There are people asking how exactly consent should be objectively determined by the person making a sexual approach.

It seems to me that for the purpose of actus reus, it shouldn’t be relevant what goes inside the victim’s head but how strongly the victim expresses non-consent. You could update the law to say that a spoken “no” means no, or even that silence means no. However, in my understanding, the law as it is already sets a certain standard for what legally constitutes lack of consent.

Could it be that, in the context of rape, actus reus could actually refer to the victim’s subjective experience of non-consent? Does the mens rea still have to be based on something objective?

Also, does mens rea actually refer to the perpetrator’s assumption of what goes on inside the victim’s head, or rather their understanding of what is generally considered expression of non-consent? Is it even possible to distinguish these?

Masse_Mysteria
Masse_Mysteria
3 months ago

@ Lumipuna
Thanks for the links and such!

Sort of uninformed ramble on consent
I haven’t been following the conversation either, and can’t answer your questions on the legal side. I’ve seen some Finns make silly arguments about giving your consent in writing and such, but I’m pretty sure most understand that’s not what this is about.

I assume the citizen’s initiative (Suostumus 2018) is not the best source for this, but it does have some information.
https://www.kansalaisaloite.fi/fi/aloite/3209

Basically, what I understand from that, there are lots of reasons why basically demanding “sufficient” resistance from the victim is unfair. There are international agreements that support the consent approach and there is such legislation in several countries already.

What I remember reading about this conversation a few years back, a lot of concerned people were worried about “he said – she said” scenarios, and one rebuttal I read said that’s already an issue, but most people don’t suggest we roll back on what counts as rape just because it’s hard to know what happened after the fact. Something about the idea not being that if you tell the police after a sexual encounter that you said “no” once, they’ll throw the other person to jail, it’s more about changing the way people view sexual ineractions and what to take into account to make sure everyone has a good time.

Alan Robertshaw
3 months ago

@ lumipuna & masse mysteria

Yeah the consent issue is so complex. You could write tomes on this; and indeed people have. But my short thoughts…

Yet more rambing
In English law it is well established that “mere submission is not consent”. But as we’ve discussed, that only goes to the first element. It’s an easy argument to say “Well yes, but you can see why the defendant thought it was.”

We also have ‘conditional consent’ here.

An obvious example is someone who would only consent if a condom was used. So ‘stealthing’ can turn what seemed like willing sex into rape. But then it can get a bit messy. There have been cases where people have not realised the sex of their partner; and that has been a subsequent deal breaker. So consider how that might affect trans people. Although the main case on this was very weird. The defendant said they were so shy the victim would need to wear a blindfold. Then they penetrated with a strap-on. So that was clearly an attempt to mislead and the second element was pretty easy to prove.

There are also some circumstances where the burden of proof as to consent gets reversed. But see here for more details on all that and more.

https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/rape-and-sexual-offences-chapter-6-consent

Alan Robertshaw
3 months ago

@ lumipuna & masse mysteria

Yeah the consent issue is so complex. You could write tomes on this; and indeed people have. But my short thoughts…

Yet more rambing

Yet more rambling
In English law it is well established that “mere submission is not consent”. But as we’ve discussed, that only goes to the first element. It’s an easy argument to say “Well yes, but you can see why the defendant thought it was.”

We also have ‘conditional consent’ here.

An obvious example is someone who would only consent if a condom was used. So ‘stealthing’ can turn what seemed like willing sex into rape. But then it can get a bit messy. There have been cases where people have not realised the sex of their partner; and that has been a subsequent deal breaker. So consider how that might affect trans people. Although the main case on this was very weird. The defendant said they were so shy the victim would need to wear a blindfold. Then they penetrated with a strap-on. So that was clearly an attempt to mislead and the second element was pretty easy to prove.

There are also some circumstances where the burden of proof as to consent gets reversed. But see here for more details on all that and more.

https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/rape-and-sexual-offences-chapter-6-consent

Lumipuna
Lumipuna
3 months ago

Thanks, Masse Mysteria and Alan.

Now that I got around to actually reading the initiative and its proposal,

Open
It does in fact specify a set of expressions and circumstances where “consent cannot be assumed to be present”. These include (not limited to): a spoken no means no, body language implying refusal (somewhat open to interpretation, I guess), victim is incapacitated, victim is under 18, social power imbalance, conditional consent not complied with.

Regarding the victim being under 18, the current age limit for “sexual abuse of a minor” is 16, which also includes relatively less invasive forms of child abuse such as groping and grooming. In contrast, the definition of rape only includes “intercourse or comparable act”. This proposal preserves the current “reasonably close in age” exception for age of consent.

Regarding social power imbalance, this is currently a separate offense called “sexual abuse”, with relatively lenient punishments. Until recently, the case of incapacitated victim was counted under this offense. It’s somewhat unclear in this proposal whether any kind of power imbalance (such as in, say, ordinary workplace hierarchy) would be grounds for rape.

Interestingly, it also says something I wouldn’t have understood without Alan’s explanation of the role of mens rea. The primary definition of rape here includes the clause “against consent”, which apparently requires the perpetrator’s belief in victim’s lack of consent. Then there’s a moment that notes that conviction for rape is also applicable, with slightly more lenient sentencing, if the perpetrator is merely uncaring about consent in abovementioned objective circumstances where “consent cannot be assumed to be present”. Or at least that’s how I’d interpret it.

Alan Robertshaw
3 months ago

@ lumipuna

Then there’s a moment that notes that conviction for rape is also applicable, with slightly more lenient sentencing, if the perpetrator is merely uncaring about consent

Your interpretation is correct…

…and here’s why
When it comes to mens rea lawyers talk a lot about ‘intent’. The legal definition is slightly different to the colloquial use. Although it now seems obvious to me, that was one of the hardest things to ‘grok’ at law school.

But, legally speaking, you can ‘intend’ to do something even if it’s the last thing on earth you *wanted* to do. To over simplify, you ‘intend’ to do something if it’s the natural and *objectively* foreseeable consequence of your actions. That objective bit is important. It’s what an average reasonable person would foresee; so it matters not if you personally didn’t anticipate it.

But to get to your specific point, we sometimes divide crimes into specific intent offences, and basic offence offences.

A specific intent case is where you intended the outcome.

A basic intent offence is where you might not have intended the outcome, but took the risk that it might come about. Legislation will often use phrases like ‘reckless’ or ‘malicious’. (which is another legal word that doesn’t mean the same is its colloquial use. it’s a synonym for reckless.

So that seems to be what’s going on in the example you give.

There’s a specific offence version where you know there’s no consent but still go ahead. So you have intended that you rape.

Then there’s a basic intent version where you are indifferent as to whether there’s consent. So you are taking the risk it might be rape.

In a lot of common-law jurisdictions the law *doesn’t* take the ‘intent isn’t magic’ approach.

Intent is everything because sentencing is based on culpability. So you are punished for your conduct, not the outcome.

To give an example. I try to shoot you but miss. Even if you didn’t even know I’d tried to kill you, I can still be convicted of attempted murder. Because it’s my voluntary conduct I’m being punished for. Whereas I could be negligent in my cooking and kill ten party guests through food poisoning, but only be guilty of manslaughter and thus receive a lower sentence than the first example because I didn’t intend to kill anyone. I was however reckless.

I would ramble more but I have a Zoom. But here’s a link to a bit more on that.

https://www.lawteacher.net/lectures/criminal-law/committing-an-offence/mens-rea/

Kat, ambassador, feminist revolution (in exile)
Kat, ambassador, feminist revolution (in exile)
3 months ago

On the bright side, the Indian MRAs have gone on marital strike.

Marital rape is still legal in India. A court decision could change that

Last month, some Indian men launched what they call a “marriage strike.” They’re refusing to get married. It’s mostly a publicity stunt on Twitter by a small group of men’s rights activists who say feminism has gone too far. Their latest target is the Delhi High Court case about marital rape.

“Our feminist movement is importing this from the West, but India is not the USA,” says Anil Murty, co-founder of the Save Indian Family Foundation, a nonprofit men’s rights group. “They copied the MeToo movement and other things, but they did not bring the Indian context enough.”

Murty is not defending rape. Any violence is wrong, he says. He actually agrees with the High Court petitioners that India is a patriarchal society that gives fewer rights to women.

I’m with you so far, Anil.

That’s precisely why he opposes any marital rape law, he says.

What.

Because he worries it could be abused.

By men?

“Our patriarchal thinking in society is like this: Let’s say a 25-year-old woman is getting divorced. Her life is destroyed. Her life is ruined,” Murty explains. “There’s a lot of stigma around divorce.

So you’re worried that the woman will be stigmatized.

The family will have a lot of loss of face, . . .

You’re worried the entire family will be stigmatized.

. . . and then they expect the man to compensate the woman with a lot of money – alimony.”

You’re worried the man will have to shell out money. A lot of it.

Murty cites two reasons for his objections. First, if wives can file rape charges against their husbands, it’ll be “he said, she said” — hard to prove, Murty says. Second, bringing such charges will be one of the only ways in which some women can get out of an unhappy marriage without losing face, he says.

So your solution is to change the laws and society so that women can get out of an unhappy marriage without losing face?

He predicts a deluge of false rape claims. Men could end up fighting for years to clear their names, he says.

Oh, I see.

Murty is divorced himself. He hasn’t been accused of rape.

Not accused.

But this High Court case hit a nerve with him. So he took to his foundation’s Twitter account last month and encouraged Indian men to boycott marriage altogether.

This guy certainly presents a sound feminist argument. Thanks, Anil!

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2022/02/08/1047588035/marital-rape-india

Last edited 3 months ago by Kat, ambassador, feminist revolution (in exile)
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