Supriti Dhar by her university while living in Russia.

Supriti Dhar: I didn’t know what ‘Marital Rape’ is!

2021-03-15 | Supriti Dhar padlock


”It is almost prohibited to talk about marital rape in our society. That’s why I think that we should talk more and more about this issue.” Supriti Dhar on being reshaped by cruel experiences and the need for change.

Supriti Dhar is a journalist and activist from Bangladesh, as well as the founder of Women Chapter.


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Denna artikel på svenska.

Yes, today you see me as a strong person, a strong feminist, a strong activist and a journalist, who is dared to speak about societal norms which goes against women’s wellbeing, more critics about any wrongdoing of her government in Bangladesh. Behind this, there are other stories too.

Look at this picture carefully. Those who know me today will never know what life was like for me. The picture is taken in Russia, where I am feeding my daughter sitting on the sidewalk of a part of my university. My eyes are tired, I need sleep. At that time every night was nightmare to me, I was terrified, I could not sleep. Because every night I was subjected to various forms of torture.

As long as I was in my class during the day, that time was completely my own. I didn't want to go back to the hostel room, but only for my baby girl I used to return back. I was barely 25 that time. Even though I didn’t know what marital rape was, I had to go through that horrible time night after night.

Today, after so many years, whenever I remember those days, I feel shivering, my whole body becomes numb.

The young lady in this picture seems to be surrendered herself, who wanted to die every moment to free herself from the curse she was bearing, yes, she thought it was a curse, because she got married to a guy who was from other religion, and who never respected her. She was raped by her husband almost every night because he thought she is in other relation as she doesn’t have desire for sex with him.

The daughter was witness of such cruelty and became panicked. Now the daughter became 29 years, but still that memory haunts her, which calls intergenerational trauma. This torture lasted for several years until she became a more confident, dignified and self-esteemed women. Again, it was not normal in her society. People tried to say, ”these types of things happen in every woman’s life, and even for the sake of two children you should have tolerated him’.

In those days I could not even realize that time will change one day, I will be able to stand on my own feet, and I will become an icon for other vulnerable women.

As a journalist I used to write about stories of other women, but my stories were unread and unsung, so I decided to write down everything. I created a platform for women who are also vulnerable and want to share their stories so that other women can be inspired, at least they can get strength to fight which I didn’t have many years ago.

In my story I was more vulnerable without any support of anyone, and moreover I had no idea about marital rape. Even I can recall that when I conceived again and never wanted to have anymore child, so I went for abortion.

I faced complications because of my negative blood group and went through a long procedure of treatment. Despite of doctors’ advice, my partner slapped me and raped me through anal way. I cried a lot, but as a student with a small baby and as an abandoned person from family, couldn’t take any decision to leave him.

Now when I think about that time of my life, I feel paralyzed but simultaneously I feel that my long fight with so many demons from different angles has reshaped me in a good way. It has made me a shelter for other women.

It is almost prohibited to talk about marital rape in our society. That’s why I think that we should talk more and more about this issue. There is no real statistics about marital rape, even today women don’t know what marital rape is. Once they are married, they think that it is normal, that it should be like that. There is no place for ’NO’.

The definition of rape varies among legal systems and even between countries with similar legal systems. An example would be how marital rape is dealt with. Many jurisdictions still do not have specific legislation that recognizes marital rape.

On October 25, a 14-year-old girl in Bangladesh died of excessive genital bleeding after being admitted to hospital. She was married to a 35-year-old man. Report said, the girl was bleeding profusely from the first night of marriage. This incident triggered us to talk again and again. Even our court has given an order to include marital rape to our existing law.

Why we should talk about marital rape?

150 countries around the world, including India, have separate laws or provisions on marital rape, but we do not have that in our country. In 1993, the United Nations declared marital rape a violation of human rights. Again, Bangladesh has not recognized it so far.

According to the National Survey on Violence Against Women (2015) conducted by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), 26.3 percent of married women are regularly subjected to sexual violence by their husbands, including forced sexual intercourse.

From our experience we know that ’marital rape’ is more deadly and painful than rape. But it is still not considered a crime. As a result, now is the time for lawmakers to legislate on marital rape to end violence against women.

Current picture of Supriti Dhar.


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