Marital Crime

Author:Sharwari Manojkumar Shinde, A student at Sinhgad Law College, Pune

    Marriage is an important part of Indian society. Marriage is not just connection of two people but a connection between two families. Marriage is a beneficial as well as problematic. Some marriages are fruitful while some are dreadful. These dreadful marriages are the result of violence, rapes, abuse i.e. mental or physical abuse. Due to the current condition of the society which is based on male dominance [ gender inequality], females are treated as inferior to males. With progress some people have changed while some haven’t changed.

    Crimes within marriage is not a new concept. It is present from a long back. Most of the crimes done within the marriage are done by husband and in-laws but in some case women to do crimes against their husband. This crime takes place behind the close door and no one takes stand for themselves to fight against themselves. As they are afraid of the society. These crimes not only have physical effect but mental effect as well. These closed-door crimes can only come in front of the law if the person against whom crimes have been done stands up for himself or else these crimes will never be able to stopped. In India males have higher status than females this leads to male dominance and suppression of women’s. Most of the men think that women are their property and they can do whatever they what with her after marriage. The number of crimes which happen within marriage are still hidden as only few files complaint while else keep quiet. Therefore, this article will study the marital crimes happening in India.


    Marital crime is a topic that deserves attention and understanding due to its impact on individuals and society. It refers to criminal activities that occur within the context of a marriage, including domestic violence, financial fraud, and sexual assault. These crimes can have severe consequences for the victims, often leading to physical and emotional trauma. In this essay, we will delve into the complexities of marital crime, explore its various forms, examine its effects, and discuss the importance of raising awareness and implementing measures to prevent and address such crimes.

    Marital crime includes a wide range of offences that occur within the confines of a marital relationship.  It is not only limited to certain caste, class or community etc. These types of crimes are present in each and every society. Domestic violence is one of the most prevalent forms of marital crime, involving physical, emotional, or sexual abuse inflicted by one spouse on the other. It is a distressing reality that affects individuals of all genders and backgrounds. Victims of domestic violence often suffer in silence, fearing the repercussions of speaking out or lacking the necessary support systems to seek help.

    Financial fraud is another form of marital crime that can have devastating consequences. It involves one spouse deceiving or manipulating the other for financial gain, often resulting in significant financial losses and emotional distress. This can include actions such as stealing money, hiding assets, or coercing the victim into signing fraudulent documents. Financial fraud not only undermines the trust within a marriage but also has long-lasting effects on the victim’s or victim’s family’s financial stability and overall well-being.

    Sexual assault within a marriage is a particularly sensitive and distressing form of marital crime. It is important to recognise that consent is crucial in any relationship, including marriage. Non-consensual sexual activities, regardless of the marital context, are a violation of an individual’s autonomy and rights. Victims of marital sexual assault often face unique challenges in seeking justice and support due to societal misconceptions and legal complexities surrounding the issue.

    The impact of marital crime extends beyond the immediate victims. Children growing up in households where marital crime occurs often experience long-term emotional and psychological trauma. Witnessing violence or being subjected to abuse can have profound effects on their development and well-being. It is crucial to provide resources and support systems for these children to break the cycle of violence and ensure their safety and recovery.


    One of the universal social institutions is marriage. Among the oldest institutions is marriage. Human society established it in order to govern and control man’s bodily demands. Marriage and family are actually complementary to one another. Marriage is a social institution that, depending on the culture, can mean many different things. Although its goals, roles, and configurations vary from culture to culture, it exists worldwide as an institution.

    Due to its diversity, India has a wide range of marriage-related forms, customs, and rituals. For the average Indian, marriage is almost a need and cannot be avoided. In this culture, living without marriage is practically unimaginable, and people who want to be single for an extended period of time face severe social stigma.

    Hindus consider marriage as a profound sacrament and a matter of religious responsibility. Hindus don’t see marriage as “a permit of sex life” or as a matter of the “social contract.” Marriage is common in the Muslim community in India because it promotes celibacy. Islam has almost institutionalized compelled marriages. Both of the major Islamic sects, the Shias and the Sunnis, observe marriage as strictly obligatory.

    Given the significance of marriage in Indian society, there are pros and cons to each. Marital crimes, such as domestic abuse, marital rape, dowry, physical abuse, cruelty, and torture, are among its drawbacks.


    Of the 28,811 reports of crime against women that the National Commission for Women (NCW) entered last time, over 55 came from Uttar Pradesh. According to NCW data, the right to quality order — which includes importunity other than domestic violence — entered the greatest number of complaints (8,540). 6,274 allegations of domestic violence were filed after this. According to the data, there were 4,797 complaints of dower importunity, 2,349 of botheration, 1,618 complaints of police incuriosity towards women, and 1,537 allegations of rape and attempt to force. 805 reports of online importunity, 605 of stalking, 472 of honour crimes, and 409 of sexual importunity were reported. 

    Among the states with the most complaints, Uttar Pradesh had 16,109, followed by Delhi with 2,411 and Maharashtra with 1,343. There were 1,312 complaints in Bihar, 1,165 in Madhya Pradesh, 1,115 in Haryana, 1,011 in Rajasthan, 608 in Tamil Nadu, 569 in West Bengal, and 501 in Karnataka. Since 2022, when 30,864 complaints were received—the most since 2014—the number of complaints has decreased.


    Marital crime in India is a topic that requires careful, sensitivity and priority consideration. Marital crime in India encompasses various forms of abuse and violence that occur within the context of marriage. Domestic violence is a significant concern, with women often being the victims. This includes physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Additionally, dowry-related offences, such as dowry harassment and dowry deaths, continue to plague Indian society. 

    These crimes are done behind closed doors. These crimes are not only present in rural community but also present among urban community. India has progressed a lot during years but still marital crimes and other crimes are still present in the Indian society. 

    Another important scenario in India is non recognition of marital rape. Marital rape refers to non-consensual sexual acts committed by a spouse. It’s important to note that not all marital relationships are marked by violence or abuse. However, it remains a pressing issue that needs to be addressed through legal measures, education, awareness campaigns, and support services for victims. The Indian government has taken steps to address the problem by enacting laws such as the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 and the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961. NGOs and women’s rights organisations also play a crucial role in providing support and resources to those affected by marital crime. 

    Most of the victims of marital crimes are women but in some cases men to face marital crimes. Now a days women are educated and well aware of laws. Some of the women use these laws to harass their husband and in-laws. And these laws are almost cognizable and non-bailable.


    The role of marital laws in India is significant in providing legal protection and promoting gender equality. These laws aim to address various issues within the institution of marriage, including domestic violence, dowry-related offences, and marital rape. 

    One of the key legislations in this regard is the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. This law recognises the rights of women to live a life free from violence and abuse within their own homes. It provides a legal framework for victims to seek protection orders, monetary relief, and other forms of support. The Act also acknowledges different forms of abuse, including physical, emotional, sexual, and economic, and ensures that appropriate action can be taken against the perpetrators.

    The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, is another important legislation that addresses the issue of dowry-related offences. It prohibits the giving or receiving of dowry and imposes strict penalties for its violation. The law aims to prevent the exploitation of women and enables them to report and seek justice for dowry harassment.

    However, it’s important to note that the implementation and effectiveness of these laws can vary. There are challenges in terms of enforcement, awareness, and cultural practices that perpetuate these crimes. It requires a collective effort from the government, law enforcement agencies, judiciary, NGOs, and society as a whole to ensure that these laws are properly implemented and victims receive the support they need.

    Marital rape, unfortunately, is an area where the laws in India have yet to catch up with societal expectations. Currently, marital rape is not recognised as a separate offence under Indian law. However, there is an ongoing discussion and demand for its criminalisation to provide better protection for women within the institution of marriage.

    In addition to these specific laws, general provisions within the Indian Penal Code, such as provisions against assault, rape, and cruelty, also apply to the context of marriage. These provisions ensure that any act of violence or cruelty against a spouse can be punishable under the law.

    Overall, the role of marital laws in India is to provide a legal framework for protecting the rights of individuals within the institution of marriage. These laws are essential in addressing and combating marital crimes, but there is still a need for continued efforts to improve awareness, implementation, and support for victims.


    With the change in time, marital crimes have increased but rate of complaint of marital crime is still low.

    Due to various factors such as lack of support, lack of awareness, fear of society etc. There are various laws regarding marital crimes but still marital crimes are practised. Marital rape is one of the heinous crimes. Still in India marital rape is not recognised as a crime. There is a need for this law and there are various ongoing debates on this topic.

    In addition to the marital laws, the following items should be taken into account when to ensure safety within marriage:

    • Awareness of their rights in marriage.
    • Possession of marriage certificate.
    • There should be mutual respect for each other and their respective boundaries.
    • Never tolerate any form of abuse or violence.
    • There should be a healthy way of discussion or conflict solving.
    • There should be equal treatment for wife and husband.
    • Work should be equally divided between both.

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