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Do movies portray Marital Rape or Sexual Violence?



Movies are considered as the visual representation of the world that we are living in. No one dislikes watching movies. But do we understand one thing that the audience gets so much engaged in a particular story that they forget the real world? The audience seems to be in a fantasy world where even if the movie shows a controversial story or a morally incorrect plotline, people seem to be okay with it.

None of the stories exist in a vacuum and it is the utmost responsibility of the filmmaker, directors, and producers to show something legal, relevant, and acceptable by the audience at large. However, they struggle to strike that balance.


Starring Rani Mukherjee and Shadaab Khan in Raja ki Aayegi Baraat directed by Ashok Gaikwad in 1997, this movie was a super hit and was accepted by a wide audience. There was no question raised regarding the story of the movie and how did the filmmaker think of producing such movies. The movie showed the lead hero Shadaab Khan as Raja who is a rapist. He rapes Mala cast by Rani Mukherjee. However, the court ordered Mala to marry Raja. This is a very false representation of the court shown where a vague judgment is given. The same situation and same sort of story were shown in the movie "Benaam Badsha" starring Anil Kapoor and Juhi Chawla. Anil Kapoor as Deepak grows up abandoned and rapes Jyoti portraying Juhu Chawla on her wedding day. However, to a great surprise, Jyoti tries to reform him and as a result, decides to move in with him. Marital rape is something that is still largely untouched by the filmmaker. There are other controversial movies like Provoked and Saath Khoon Maaf which portrayed sexual violence in marriage. Raja ki Aayegi Baraat and Benaam Badshah portrayed an unacceptable story. The place where victims and accused come and seek their trials and bails, how can such movies show that justice has given the order to marry the rapist's victim. To everyone's surprise, the movie portrayed the victim to be agreeing to the fact of marrying her rapist. There was one more South Indian hit movie that was dubbed and remade in Bollywood known as "Tejaswini" which portrayed a similar situation.


The question which arises is why didn't these movies show the rigorous punishment of the rapists? Why didn't the filmmaker show the victory of the victim who fought amongst the odds and her rapist leads to imprisonment? The answer to this is we are only focussing on why and not how laws have been amended and repealed. We must agree to the fact that movies in the 70s,80s, and 90s cannot be similar. Controversies and questions might have been raised at that time but as technology is increasing, the mindset of people is changing and movies at present times are quite different and even portray a very strong meaning.


Legal Actions

Before beginning, the law says "Sex by husband is not rape, it does not matter if it is without consent or forcefully". The word marital rape is having sexual intercourse with own spouse without consent or by compelling or danger. Section 375 of the Indian Penal code is rape. According to the Indian penal Code, marital rape constitutes a punishment of up to 15 years. Marital rape may not have a specific place in the legislature, but IPC has not excluded marital rape from its definition of rape as said in Article 145. Rape along with spousal rape is very much illegal and constitutes 8 years of punishment. There should be an extra-legal step if the rapist agrees to marry the victim which has no specific mention in law till now.


Role of Media and Entertainment laws

As movies play a very important part in my life, so do the media and entertainment laws. Under Article 19 (1) (A) Film laws in India, such kinds of films should be banned. It guarantees freedom of speech and expression as extended to the press. Thus it is regulated under this constitution. It even falls under the censorship of films as the movies portrayed something offensive. The role of these laws is to protect the freedom of expression, media freedom, and technical standards. Section 4 of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 is the procedure to examine the film before the release. Every movie should be checked along with the storyline before the release.

The movies must be made in a way that conveys a positive message and a moral value to be remembered for the rest of life. If any wrong is shown as it was in Raja ki Aayegi Baraat and Benaam Badshah, such movies should have a legal injunction. There might not be any specific section under media or entertainment laws but the Indian Penal Code, Copyright play a very important part. Under the Cinematograph Act, 1952, a person who is found guilty of a violation for exhibiting movies that can violate someone's rights is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 years, or with a fine which may extend to Rs. 1/-lakh, or with both. The Broadcasting Agency should also note or take care about such stories which are portrayed in the movies. Section 5 of the Cinematograph Act gives guidance in certifying films that can be released and shown to the audience. Even the central government has the right to suspend films if it is a violation. Then why not such films? It might be because at those times, there were no strict laws or differences in mindset or people were very less concerned about such things shown in movies and analyzing them with reality.


Conclusion

Provoked and Lipstick under my Burkha are such movies that showed the ill sides and horror abuse of marital rape where it is merely not a crime in India. Marital rape though constitutes a crime but does not have a mention in the constitution. And this is the advantage which is taken by those criminals in finishing the life of a victim. Any husband can rape a wife who is above 15 years old, then what laws would help her? How will she come out from the dark web? To sum up, such movies must be created which portray the rape victim as fearless and bold and coming out of such thing. The movies must be made in comparison to the old blockbuster hits which showed a wrong thing and hence should portray the victim as a fighter.

Law is blind and so are the filmmakers. It's high time now for the legislature to make a strict section particularly for marital rape otherwise such kinds of movies would come out and it must be agreed that it is such a disrespectful thing even for justice as the movies portrayed courts giving this kind of unfair order. 32 countries of the world have not yet criminalized marital rape, amongst which one of them is India.

The thing doesn't end here. There have been petitions filed to make marital rape an offense but no actions were taken. A woman filed a petition in 2015, to declare marital rape an offense, but the apex court stated: "law should not change for one woman". In the case of Arnesh Kumar vs the State of Bihar, the court stated that if marital rape is criminalized, the social and family life system will be collapsed. Even if remedies are available for women, marital rape should be criminalized and made a criminal offense such as in countries like Belarus, Belgium, Bhutan, Bhutan, Bulgaria, etc. The UN Committee too recommended that the goverment should criminalize marital rapes.

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