A New Zealand court has convicted a man for marital rape, abuse and violence.
The Napier District court found the Sikh man guilty of treating his as sex slave, raping and beating her and threatening her with knife.
The couple, whose identity cannot be revealed so as to protect the victim, were in an arranged marriage, and the woman was very vulnerable.
It it a common practice for unmarried Indian men living overseas to opt for an arranged marriage, usually with a bride from India. In such situations, the bride is usually at the mercy of her husband in a new land – in a foreign culture, without friends, and often with a language barrier.
Marital rape is still not illegal in India, despite the latest revisions to rape-related legislation in India to make anti-rape laws stricter following the infamous Nirbhaya rape case in Delhi in December 2013.
The Napier police came to know about the bride’s torture when they visited her home on the boxing day of 2012 (26 December), following an incident.
When the police reached the spot, they found a very scared woman hiding behind a car in the driveway, while her drunk husband was television in the house.
After the incident, the victim was taken to the doctor who confirmed bruise marks on the victim’s wrists.
The district court was told that the man kept a 45cm knife under the bed, which was reportedly used to force the victim to have sex. It is unclear whether the knife was part of a religious practice common among Sikh men.
Crown prosecutor Steve Manning considered ethnic background of the case. “Culturally, we have heard that in the Sikh culture, for which an arranged marriage has occurred, leaving your husband is a big deal and not done lightly,” Steve said.
Defence lawyer Russell Fairbrother, QC, put across the argument that the girl had possibly married the NRI so as to gain permanent residency in New Zealand. “What is the attraction, except to move to a country like New Zealand to gain residency?
The man will be sentenced on 10 April.