"Should A Woman Marry Her Rapist?"


That’s a headline from the Times of India. At first glance, we’re going to go with “no.” At second glace, we still are.

“When a rapist offers to marry the victim, one would think it’s the perfect solution,” begins the article. Yet, one would be wrong! Maybe! Sometimes!

It’s actually not an unusual scenario. In India, even as women’s issues gain prominence, rape is largely considered shameful to the victim. Particularly in rural communities, a rape victim — especially one who is impregnated by rape — can be stigmatized and unable to marry in future, and sees her options, economic and otherwise, drastically reduced. As such, women do sometimes marry their rapists — indeed, as the article terms it, “want” to do so. Such unions are not themselves considered problematic; indeed, there has been a trend of romanticizing these relationships in movies and on TV. Says one activist quoted in the article, “Indian television has replicated these real life incidents into reel life. What they don’t understand is that this could lead to serious repurcussions. TV channels should ensure that they are not propogating the act by showing victims marrying their rapists.”

The situation has led to further complications. In March, the then Chief Justice of India, suggested (apparently in…some kind of gesture towards rape victims’ rights), “A woman should be allowed to have a baby out of rape and/or marry the man and drop the rape charge if she so wishes.”

The thinking, apparently, was that as long as this system persisted — and led to a certain amount of superficial societal rehabilitation for the woman — it should be facilitated. That this merely succeeds in reinforcing the existing societal norms does not appear to trouble the Chief Justice. But, says one NGO worker quoted in the article,

The girl has already been wronged once. And to add to the misery, her predator neatly escapes the consequences of the crime by simply marrying the girl. You never know if this practice catches on, rapists might resort to such techniques on any girl he fancies. This is just not done.

To the paper’s credit — we guess — they do quote a psychologist who asserts that marrying one’s rapist is probably not a good idea on grounds other than the legal. That, for instance, a rapist might not make the greatest husband, and that being forced to marry someone who’s perpetrated an act of such violence and fundamental violation could be traumatic. Indeed, says she,”rape is a big trauma and the victim requires intensive therapy” rather than the dubious band-aid of retroactively decriminalizing the rape. The effects on any offspring are not even addressed, but we’re guessing they’re not salutary — even if they are spared the societal stigma of illegitimacy.

In response to the article’s headline, here’s our answer: we wish this question was rhetorical. And, indeed, didn’t need to be asked in the first place.

Should A Woman Marry Her Rapist? [Times of India]
Times Of India Asks (And Doesn’t Adequately Answer), ‘Should A Woman Marry Her Rapist?’ [Caveat Viator]

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin