There are many novels, poems, films and plays written about rape and victims of rape, some even glorifying the rapists.
The Daily News on May 21, 2015 carried an article by Tom Rawsthorne, about rape at Oxford and how no action is taken against the rapists. Indian media reported that the defense lawyer for the four accused in the Delhi rape and murder case had said, "Why don't people first control their daughters? I'd burn my daughter alive if she was having pre-marital sex, roaming around with her boyfriend at night".
It is the usual practice among most defense lawyers to attempt to blacken the character of the rape victims, but this statement by the Delhi lawyer is taking it to the extreme edge of depravity. In the 1961 film 'Town Without Pity' during the occupation of Germany by the U.S. army after the World War II, four drunken soldiers rape a young girl and the whole town turns against the rapists. But a 'criminal' lawyer turns the tables so successfully to blacken the girl's character and show the soldiers as the victims, that the whole town turns against the girl forcing her to commit suicide.
In our part of the world, the Laws of Manu still dominate our thinking. He wrote, "Day and night woman must be kept in dependence by the males (of) their (families), and, if they attach themselves to sensual enjoyments, they must be kept under one's control......Women must particularly be guarded against evil inclinations, however trifling (they may appear)..."
"But I say unto you, That whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart." Matthew 5:28. (I am giving the reference here for anyone to look up the entire chapter and not this quote out of context.) We could interpret this to mean that all the advertisements depicting women as sexual objects are targeting men to commit adultery. Or we could use these images to meditate on impermanence, trying to see through all the makeup and photoshopped images, and see a skin-bag full of filth.
About pre-marital sex, there had been a very interesting decision by the Madras High Court in June 2013, "Once the sexual relationship between a man and woman is consummated, they become husband and wife, and rituals are but formalities for societal satisfaction." Even though many people had criticized this decision, it should be admired as a way of protecting women's rights.
In the reign of Shamshu-ilu-na c. 2200 BCE, when Rimum, son of Shamkhatum, has taken as a wife and spouse Bashtum, the daughter of Belizunu, the priestess(?) of Shamash, daughter of Uzibitum, it has been called a contract for marriage. This is just another contract like the other contracts for the sale and purchase of slaves, real estate, harvest, or the rental of a house.
"Marriage retained the form of purchase, but was essentially a contract to be man and wife together...the bride-groom's father providing the bride-price.....the bride price...was in excess of that paid for a slave".
It is all male-female bonding, which happens among all animals. Among the early humans, when the woman domesticated a man, it was just to be her partner to manage her children. It is only when they began to acquire property and wealth in the form of land and stockpiles of food, that the woman wanted to have her man bound to her for life. Man would never have wanted to be tied down to one woman, but the woman would have realized if her man went to other women too, then her property would have to be shared with them or perhaps she could even lose all her rights to this property.
With agriculture and landownership, as man began to play the dominant role, the land owners who later became the rulers of the landless, had to ensure that their wealth and power could be passed on to their progeny. Unless there bonding with their women were not made public, at a public ceremony, these people would not have been able to establish who their sons were. Thus in the beginning the legal bonding, which later came to be known as marriage would have been confined to those who enjoyed wealth or power or both. For the powerless and the poor, all they had to pass on to their children was the misery and suffering. Children would not fight each other for such inheritance.
When a man purchased a wife, or a father gave away a daughter to a man at a price or with a price, often the woman's consent was not sought. Thus it would have been socially and legally sanctioned rape. Probably that is why we hear of marital rape today, because women dare to speak about it, but do not dare to separate from such a man, due to legal, economic and social restrictions.
If there is such a thing called love among two people of opposite sex, why is it that they need to promise in front of God, or all their family and friends, that they shall stay together till death do them part, and then sign a legal document and get a license to live together, enjoy sexual pleasures and produce children? Our promise to each other should be enough. This legal marriage makes it just another business contract, to ensure that the partner could also enjoy the wealth owned or earned, and they could pass them on to their children.
Rape, violent, statutory, consensual or marital, is still a violation of the basic rights of a woman. No woman should be made to suffer in silence.