Friday, January 21 2022

Dive In


For the last five years I have been on the ground fighting against the oppressive policies of this government. The opposition should have fielded their strongest candidates against Yogi Adityanath. I am not afraid to go up against him. If Bhagat Singh had been afraid, India wouldn’t have got Independence. I will fight with integrity.

That’s Chandrashekhar Azad announcing his intention to go up against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Gorakhpur. The prominent Dalit leader’s decision is also an attempt to woo the Dalit vote—which is critical to the BJP’s election math—and highlight Adityanath’s upper caste identity. The Telegraph has more on how this could play out.


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Stuff to check out: On the latest episode of the splainer podcast ‘Press Decode’, the splainer team looks at change, or lack thereof—a Catholic Church that refuses to embrace progress and a purani Dilli that is not so purani any more. Be sure to head over to the IVM website, Spotify or Apple Podcasts to listen to it.

Big Story

The heated debate over marital rape

The TLDR: The Delhi High Court is considering four petitions that challenge the part of the Indian Penal Code that decriminalises rape within marriage. We look at what the law says, why this “marital rape exception” still exists—and why it is being challenged.


Researched by: Sara Varghese 


Tell me about the court case…

The public interest litigations were filed by two NGOs—RIT Foundation, All India Democratic Women’s Association and two individuals. They are challenging a specific part of the Indian Penal Code—Section 375 that covers the crime of rape. The most recent hearing was on January 20, and the next one will be held today


Section 375: defines rape as when a man has sexual intercourse with a woman under six circumstances—“against her will”, “without her consent”, “with or without her consent, when she is under sixteen years of age” etc.  But it also contains a one line stating a single circumstance where none of these definitions apply: “Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.” It essentially gives a husband the right to rape his wife. Though the age has since been raised to eighteen.


Why does this ‘exception’ even exist?

Like many other debated provisions in the IPC, this exception is based on bad colonial laws—which in turn based itself on bad English laws. It rests on two core premises:


One: Implicit consent. This concept was laid out by Chief Justice Sir Matthew Hale in 1736: 


“The husband cannot be guilty of a rape committed by himself upon his lawful wife, for by their mutual matrimonial consent and contract the wife hath given up herself in this kind unto her husband, which she cannot retract.”


In other words, once a woman marries a man, she has given her consent to sexual intercourse in perpetuity. The draft version of the IPC written by Lord Macaulay echoes this assumption “in favour of the conjugal rights of the husband.”


Two: Expectation of sex. The 19th century laws also assumed that the contract of marriage carried sexual obligations that must be fulfilled by the spouse—“independent of women’s will or consent.” In other words, it is her duty to cater to her husband’s sexual needs.


Point to note: Most Western nations have gotten rid of this exception. Former British colony Australia made marital rape a criminal offence back in 1976. But the UK did not do so until 1991. Even non-Western nations like Nepal, Malaysia and South Africa have criminalised marital rape. 


So why haven’t we done the same?

Headlines that matter

Farewell, Amar Jawan Jyoti 

The eternal flame at India Gate in Delhi—lit to pay tribute to the soldiers who died in the 1971 Bangladesh war—will be snuffed out. It will be merged instead with the flame at the National War Memorial inaugurated in 2019 by the government. That flame recognises the deaths of over 26,000 Indian soldiers who have died in the wars and conflicts of independent India. And government leaders have ever since been laying their wreaths there—and not at India Gate. (Indian Express)

An AI girlfriend to abuse

Just when you think tech misogyny can’t get any nastier, we now have an app that men are using to create chatbots that are on-demand romantic and sexual partners. Replika was originally created to offer an AI version of a friend or mentor. But Reddit is now full of posts from users who create these partners—and post their abusive interactions with them online:


“The results can be upsetting. Some users brag about calling their chatbot gendered slurs, roleplaying horrific violence against them, and even falling into the cycle of abuse that often characterizes real-world abusive relationships.”

Futurism has more on the troubling ethics and implications of this behaviour.

A study of note 

A new review of the research confirms what most of us suspect about weed—but no longer want to admit it now that it’s considered legit. 


“The newly published review looked at studies on over 43,000 people and found a negative impact of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, on the brain's higher levels of thinking. Those executive functions include the ability to make decisions, remember important data, plan, organize and solve problems, as well as control emotions and behavior.”


This is especially a problem for adolescent brains that are still developing. As for adults, these effects may ease after they stop smoking, but that depends on the amount, frequency and years of marijuana use. (CNN)

Clone that cute Insta puppy!

Star moms and dads get a bad rep for living their lives through their famous kids. But they aren’t a patch on Instagram influencers who’ve attained fame thanks to their pets—who unfortunately don’t live as long as humans who profit from them. The solution:cloning. By replicating their dogs, they get to keep the Insta handle going long after the pooch is dead. Wait, it gets creepier: some even market copies of their dogs. (Futurism)


In today’s edition

Sanity Break

  • Photos of the first full Moon of 2022 from around the world


Weekend Advisory

  • Good stuff to watch this weekend
  • A list of good reads

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