Maneka Gandhi
The Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) is all set to hold the first ever "All India Women Journalists' Workshop" on June 7 at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi. Picture: Union Minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi during the launch of `Mahila E-HAAT` - An online Marketing Platform for Women Entrepreneurs - in New Delhi on March 7, 2016.IANS

Women and Child Development (WCD) Minister Maneka Gandhi said Thursday that the idea of marital rape as understood internationally can't be applicable to India due to multiple factors like illiteracy, poverty, customs and religion. The minister said this in the Rajya Sabha while responding to a written question about the government's intention to criminalise marital rape.

"It is considered that the concept of marital rape, as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors like level of education/illiteracy, poverty, myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs, mindset of the society to treat the marriage as a sacrament, etc. (sic)" Gandhi said in the written response, the Press Trust of India reported.

In another instance related to how rape is perceived in India, the Bombay High Court said Thursday that educated women above the age of 18 cannot term consensual sexual intercourse as "rape" after the relationship turns sour later. The court was hearing a 25-year-old man's anticipatory bail plea as his former partner had registered an FIR accusing him of raping and cheating her and going back on his marriage promise as well.

The man was in a relationship with a 24-year-old woman who had alleged that he would take her to hotels and force her to have sexual intercourse on the false pretext of marrying her. The woman, who claimed to have helped him financially, said he also forced her to go for abortion once.

"This cannot be considered as rape. You are a major, educated, and you have a choice of saying no. But if you did not say no at the time, then it will be considered as mutual consent. When the woman is educated and mature, she can say no. When she says yes, then it becomes mutual," the Hindustan Times quoted Justice Mridula Bhatkar as saying.

While the WCD minister continued to show reluctance, much like the UPA government, in penalising marital rape, the Bombay High Court's ruling targeted only "educated" women.