This is to explain why I am against equating marital rape with rape, and why I am suspicious of laws designed specifically against it.
Way back in 2004 Ravikiran Rao wrote
many of the points that I am going to raise, but more beautifully. Do read the connotation vs. denotation argument in the post, how feminists disingenuously use the *denotative meaning* of the word rape to unleash its *connotations* on their targets. So whenever you see a sentence like "rape is rape", caution is advisable - chances are, someone is attempting to use a denotative meaning to subtly communicate a connotative one.
I would like to discuss two issues here - intensity of the crime, and the proof standard involved.
Intensity of heinousness
Rape involves force/coercion and violence, which makes it bad, heinous.
However, if that were all there was to it, then one could treat it under the general heading of violence. A separate heading like rape, intended to devote more specialized discussion to it, would not be needed.
We all treat rape separately and more seriously, and rightly so, because there is much more
to rape than violence. Deep emotional scars are caused because of factors such as:
(a) Evolutionary psychological trauma (I am writing from a vague understanding, please correct me if I am wrong) : someone raping a woman is, as it were, threatening to take control over her reproductive destiny and to force her to raise a child that shares genes from someone she hasn't chosen. A woman is hardwired to feel devastated from it, because when humans evolved there weren't effective methods to prevent pregnancy. For this reason, medical assurances about how pregnancy can be controlled will not help.
(b) Societal stigma (especially in more conservative countries).
Notice that (b) does not apply to marital rape at all, though (a) applies to it, albeit to a much smaller extent : trauma about (the primal fears associated to) being impregnated, though by a chosen person, at the wrong time.
Thus, marital rape falls somewhere between ordinary violence and actual rape, but - I could be wrong but am yet to see arguments articulated either way - much closer to ordinary violence than to actual rape. Thus, using the same word "rape" for both these is like "ashvatthaamaa hataH...kunjaraH".
Short of certain injury signs, it is difficult to prove marital rape. The feminist approach to the difficulty posed by evidentiary standards is reflected in and summarized by Krish Ashok's comment here
, namely : "so you can either trust women to not misuse the law or men to not rape. What sounds more likely to you?"
Of course, articulating this prominently will eat away from popular support for the feminist cause, so feminists tend to avoid this point and focus on the gruesomeness of rape, in other words emotionally manipulate using the connotation vs denotation obfuscation.
Be that as it may, the question posed by Krish Ashok is worth thinking over. For one, is it okay to frame laws that are unfair against group B, and thereby sacrifice a few, say m, members of group B, if that improves the chances that people of group A may get justice, let us say it helps n members of group A get justice? If so, what should a lower bound for (say an expected value for) n be as a function of m?
That is only one of the questions worth asking here. Another problem with the feminist argument is the following - the following possibilities are consistent
with each other :
(a) The possibility that marital rape happens with an outrageous frequency; and
(b) The possibility that most marital rape cases that *go to court* could be fake, filed by women who want to settle some score with their husbands (in other words, it may happen that almost all genuine victims of marital rape suffer silently without going to court).
I repeat, I am not saying that (b) will necessarily happen, but merely that belief in (a) does not automatically preclude the possibility of (b) occurring. I don't know how far (b) might occur. I doubt anyone knows either. I am afraid feminists want us to believe that the numbers say what they want us to believe, not because they have figured the numbers out but because their own internal fears incentivize them to believe that numbers are aligned in a particular way.
Finally, it is scary to think of how in every other issue one can think of, "civilized discourse" emphasizes the principle of "innocent until proven guilty", while the same sources of discourse, when it comes to this issue, cite an unusually, extraordinarily, consequentialist-sounding argument to deny men any benefit from due process.