Marital rape is taken lightly by governments all over the world, from first world states to the worst of the third world. In an attempt to wrap my head around this controversial topic I decided to do a little research of my own and something in a blog post I read caught my attention particularly.
“Criminalizing marital rape is a no brainer. There’s no need for even the phrase “marital rape” to exist. We don’t have “marital murder” after all. It’s just murder. The relationship of the victim to the perpetrator is completely irrelevant”.
While I do understand the concern with trying to accuse a husband of raping his wife, I do have to agree with the sentiment above, that rape is rape no matter who the perpetrator may be. It’s easy for people to dismiss this issue. Often, people and even women I’ve spoken with cite that there’s nothing wrong with a husband wanting to sleep with his wife, while the wife may be unwilling to for reasons revolving around laziness and pure lethargy. This is true and I agree fully. However, what these people fail to recognize is an implicit notion of consent despite the woman being tired.
Therefore, under any circumstance the above-mentioned example wouldn’t amount to rape anyway. Why? Because in order for someone to be raped or sexually assaulted, there cannot have been consent from the victim in the first place. Of course, consent is not considered real consent if it is obtained by force, intimidation or by deception. Women often choose not to resist a rape in order to survive. This does not mean however that she consented to what happened.
Having said that, let me just put it plainly: marital rape is wrong and there should be legal repercussions for the perpetrator. Not only can marital rape occur in relationships but, the scars left on marital rape victims are often more traumatizing than other rape victims, not that I’m keeping score, because any situation involving rape is devastating. However, according to the Rape, Abuse, Incest & National Network’s research, women who are victims of marital rape are more likely to experience repeated assaults than other rape victims. In fact, among battered women, sexual assault may be a routine part of the pattern of the abuse.
For example, a Nigerian lady named Temilade Temisan was a victim of routine physical, verbal and sexual abuse – that is too brutal to even put into writing – by her husband for years, all because she exerted her right to say no.
There is also an underlying pressure to stay with the perpetrator. A victim with children who lacks outside employment may be financially dependent on her spouse and feel there is no way to leave the situation.
Lastly, and most significantly, a victim may have difficulty identifying what has happened to them as ‘rape’ or as a crime for that matter. For many cultures, defining the other spouse’s conduct as rape or identifying someone she married and loves as a “rapist” can have negative repercussions that the victim may not have the capacity to deal with. This has resulted in cases of marital rape being one of the most rarely reported crimes, even today.
Having said that, I hope I have convinced you that marital rape is a serious issue and crime. The fact that countries like Singapore, marital rape is not a legal offense is rather disheartening to me. Not only does it send the message that women’s rights are not valued but it sends the more offensive message that women’s rights are valued less than a man’s rights.
What are your views? Do you guys believe that marital rape is a crime? If so, how can we change mindsets of governments to ensure proper legislation for women around the world?
- Marital rape prevalent in Zimbabwe (thestandard.co.zw)
- Marital Rape: Everybody’s business is nobody’s business (solivagantramblings.wordpress.com)
- ‘One in four men across Asia admit to having committed rape’ (thehindu.com)