‘May #MarriageStrike Remain for Centuries’: Indian Women Respond to Twitter Trend

With the Delhi high court debating the possibility of criminalising 'marital rape', a section of people on Twitter used the hashtag #MarriageStrike because they felt the move would "favour" women, vowing to remain bachelors.

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New Delhi: The Delhi high court on January 11 decided to hear petitions challenging Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which exempts forceful sexual intercourse by a man with his wife from the offence of rape, or provides a sort of “marital rape immunity” to men. It said that irrespective of marital status, every woman has the right to say ‘no’ to a non-consensual sexual act.

Exception 2 to Section 375 of the IPC, which defines rape, states that sexual intercourse by a man with his wife is not rape, unless the wife is below 15 years of age.

“Have 50 countries (which have made marital rape an offence) got it wrong?” the court asked.

In its affidavit, the Union government defended the exception, saying that it cannot be made a “criminal offence” as it could become a phenomenon that may destabilise the “institution of marriage” and an easy tool for “harassing the husbands”.

It’s important to note why this provision is placed in the first place. According to the Indian Express, this “immunity” is premised broadly on two assumptions: first, rooted in the idea that a woman after marriage is the “property” of the man, she gives consent held by her husband that she cannot retract; second, the assumption that a woman is “duty-bound” to fulfil sexual responsibilities in a marriage since the aim of marriage is procreation.

The petitioners have argued that a woman can say no even during/in-between a sexual act, and therefore, the assumption of “consent in perpetuity” described in the first provision cannot be legally valid.

Moreover, is the judiciary willing to place the “institution of marriage” and “procreation” above the fundamental rights of a woman?

The Union government on January 19, Wednesday, informed the court that an “informed consultation process” to examine the issue of criminalising marital rape has been “fast-tracked”.

One day later, Twitter is trending with #MarriageStrike because a section of men feel such a move would “favour” women, therefore threatening that they woould never marry. A large number of tweets with this hashtage had misogynistic content, depicting women as opportunists and “gold diggers”.

Replying to the #MarriageStrike trend, the All India Progressive Women’s Association secretary Kavita Krishnan, tweeted: “I strongly hope that men who are going on #MaritalStrike remain on strike for ever. They are not safe for any woman to be married to. Anyone who thinks consent has no place in a marriage, should never marry.”

Another Twitter user said, “#MarriageStrike is the most hilarious trend of all of twitter. Feeling sad for every incel who thinks women are waiting to marry them.”

Rejoicing the decision of men to not marry, another Twitter user wrote: “May the #MarriageStrike remain for the next few centuries. Full sapot to Indian menz.”

“You are right sir, this will will apt way to teach us ice cream eating b*tches a lesson. Please continue #MarriageStrike . Don’t break resolve under any circumstances,” wrote another user, responding to a tweet that supported the trend.

“I support this trend #MarriageStrike. An entire generation should skip the marriage and procreation nonsense and read some books, travel etc. It’ll make a generation of women free, happy, adventurous, dreamers, doers. Less marriage, less responsibilities, and more fun please.” wrote another user.