ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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​​​​​​​Decrypting Marital Rape in Malayalam Cinema

Kettyolaanu Ente Malakha espouses a problematic understanding of marital rape by sympathising with the perpetrator and trivialising the trauma of the survivor.

Sexual violence against women, children, and sex/gender-non-conforming people is a recurring trope in Malayalam films. The disciplining and victimisation of the subject create voyeuristic visual pleasure in viewers. Due to the increasing awareness about sexual violence, the social uprising post the Nirbhaya case, the #MeToo movement and its popular support on social media, the 2017 case in Kerala in which a popular film actress was raped in a moving vehicle while returning from work and the formation of the labour guild for women who work in the Malayalam film industry (Women in Cinema Collective), some films have started depicting the post-trauma of the survivors and supporting them. However, Kettyolaanu Ente Malakha (My Wife Is My Angel, 2019), directed by Nissam Basheer, espouses a problematic understanding of marital rape. This film regressively depicts marital rape by sympathising with the perpetrator and weakens the gravity of the crime.

Sexual violence against cis-women in a marriage is yet to be unlawful in India—Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) defines rape as unlawful sexual intercourse without the consent of a woman or by manipulating her consent through misdirection or deception or at a period when she is intoxicated or duped, or mentally unsound, or if she is a minor below 18 years of age. However, it rules out marital rape and provides a sanction for engaging in a consensual or non-consensual sexual relationship within marriage provided the wife is 18 or above. Awareness campaigns on the rights of women and feminist discourses have called for criminalising them as rape and have sought punishment for the culprits because these acts deny women autonomy on their bodies and desires.

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Updated On : 10th Apr, 2023
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