Sexual Violence and Consent: Rape in Marriages - MumsVillage

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Sexual Violence and Consent: Rape in Marriages

Last week, we had a WhatsApp flash chat in which Jane answered various questions on sexual health and consent. Jane is a family therapist as well as a clinical counselor who supports people and families in building and nurturing relationships, marriages and families. In this article, we look at rape in marriages which is a question asked in the group.

 

We hear that some married women are raped by their husband and most of them say that its a conjugal duty so the wife cannot refuse. 

Engaging in any sexual contact with anyone without their consent is rape whether married or not. If a woman is not ready for sex and her husband forces himself, that is considered rape. A marriage certificate or dowry does not give a man full control over her body. There has to be mutual understanding, respect of each other’s needs and compromise between the two parties involved. 

 

When a married woman doesn’t want to have a sexual relationship with her husband for whatever the reason is, how can she make the husband understand? 

It’s unfortunate that some men who claim to ‘love’ their women still carry the old conditioning from early on that they have full authority over a woman’s body. A man who cares for their wives would understand, without making too much of a fuss when a woman is not ready for sex. However, not all men are very understanding. Communication is very important here. If there are certain things you don’t appreciate when they do them or they force you to do it when not ready, let them know. Having an open dialogue and honesty is key. Sex is still a taboo subject in many households. You have to educate yourself on how to tackle the uncomfortable discussion and clearly let your spouse know how the sexual experience is for you. 

 

What are her options to get justice if she is raped by her husband? We know that in Africa it’s difficult to prove that a woman is raped by her husband. What help can she have? 

I agree proving marital rape is hard. Just because it’s difficult to prove doesn’t mean we can’t report this criminal act. I would recommend taking action as soon as it happens. A timely medical examination is important. So go to the hospital immediately. If you have any witness testimony, eyewitnesses before or after the assault let them support your claim. There are very high chances that for any marital rape to occur, there are other issues that may have been going on such as emotional or physical abuse. Any possible admission by the perpetrator on texts can all help to secure conviction like any other sexual assault case. Keep any written information you may have in text or email.

Abuse is not only physical but also emotional and psychological. Any kind of abuse leaves the abused in a state of confusion, depression, doubts and many other effects due to trauma. If you are going through abuse or you know a person going through abuse, the Gender-Based Violence-free hotline is 1195. Furthermore, if you would like to join a community of women healing from abuse, WhatsApp +254736275978.

You may also like: Healthy Relationships: Co-parenting Do’s and Don’ts

Healthy Relationships: Rebuilding a Marriage After Infidelity

 

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