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Shashi Tharoor introduces bill to make marital rape a crime, mandate free sanitary pads in govt schools

New Delhi, News Nation Bureau | Updated : 06 January 2019, 08:47 PM
Shashi Tharoor says the bill's central idea was the
Shashi Tharoor says the bill's central idea was the "agency of women".

Congress Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor has introduced a private bill -- sexual, reproductive and menstrual rights bill -- in the Lok Sabha to make marital rape a crime. The bill proposes the deletion of Exception 2 to Section 375 of Indian Penal Code, which states that sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife is not rape. It also mandates access to sanitary pads free of cost in government schools and public offices for all women. Besides, the Bill grants a woman, irrespective of marital status, right to terminate pregnancy except when it may lead to female foeticide or when the foetus becomes viable.

Posting a series of tweets on Sunday, Tharoor said the Women's Sexual, Reproductive and Menstrual Rights Bill 2018 adds a provision to Explanation 2 that "the women's ethnicity, religion, caste, education, profession, clothing preference, entertainment preference, social circle, personal opinion, past sexual conduct or any other related grounds shall not be a reason to presume her consent to the sexual activity."

Tharoor had introduced the Bill on Friday. Tharoor had said the bill's central idea was the "agency of women". The existing laws fail to recognise 'woman' as an individual capable of making her own choices, specifically her sexual choices as a wife and her reproductive choices when pregnant.

“In addition to criminalizing marital rape, the Bill prohibits the use of unrelated facts such as a woman’s ethnicity, education, profession, clothing preference, social circle, personal opinion, past sexual conduct or any other related grounds in presuming her sexual consent,” he tweeted.

“The Bill mandates access to sanitary pads free of cost in govt schools and public offices for all women, acknowledging that menstruation is an essential involuntary bodily function & that questioning the absence of sanitary pads must become a societal norm and not a stigma, Thiruvananthapuram MP wrote.

The bill also grants a child survivor of rape the right to terminate pregnancy unless there is a risk to her life, he said.

“The Bill acknowledges the inaccessibility of resources in rural areas & the social stigma surrounding termination of pregnancy. It includes provisions for easier termination and protection of privacy of women who may intend to terminate pregnancy or terminate pregnancy,” Tharoor wrote.

First Published: Sunday, January 06, 2019 08:46 PM
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