Is there rape in marriage?

Rape is rape regardless of the relationship between the victim and the rapist and that includes a husband and wife relationship.Marital rape is defined as any unwanted sexual act by a partner without consent. It is obtained by force, threats, and intimidation. These sexual acts include any forced sexual behavior with other individuals as well as other sexual activities that the victim considers degrading, humiliating, painful and unwanted. It is an intimate and personal traumatic experience. Different victims have different experiences, but one fact remains constant, rape victims suffer grave psychological consequences.


For some victims, rape is normally a one-off incident. Thigs are, however, different in marital rape. It is not just a physical violation but also a betrayal of trust. The same person that should love you and treat you with respect and honor is the one that inflicts those emotional wounds. Instead of sharing intimacy, this action will open the door to resentment, rejection, and destruction destroying the fundamental basis of the marriage relationship.


In many countries, this act is criminalized and recognized within law even though very few cases are reported.


Marital rape is one of the under-reported violent crimes because it is socially tolerated. Some abused women are afraid to report the violence because they rely financially on their husbands for their upkeep and children’s maintenance. Others cannot speak out due to fear and humiliation.


According to a 2011 UN report, while two-thirds of countries in the world have legislation in place against domestic violence, quite some countries are yet to enact laws explicitly making marital rape a crime. According to the report, only 52 countries had amended their laws as of April 2011, to make marital rape a criminal offense specifically (including, for example, Canada, Turkey, Australia, Denmark, Brazil, RwandaSouth Africa, and ); 127 countries have not yet taken this step.


In Kenya, the Sexual Offences Act, 2006 includes an apparent marital rape exemption, because the definition of rape is seen not to apply regarding a couple that is   “lawfully married” to each other.

Four years ago, human rights groups lauded Kenya after it ratified a new and progressive constitution in 2010. However, the country’s lawmakers have been unwilling  to pass laws that conform to that landmark document.

“Article 45(3) of the Constitution states that Parties to a marriage are entitled to equal rights at the time of marriage, during the marriage and at the dissolution of the marriage. There is urgent need to bring those laws and customs in conformity with the Constitution,” wrote the Kenya Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) in a recent memorandum on the Marriage Act.

A 2008-2009 survey found that an alarming 13 percent of wives in Kenya said their husbands had forced them into sex at some point during the previous year. Half of married women who reported being abused stated that they hadn’t told anyone about it, according to a 2002 survey by FKenya’s current Sexual Offences explicitly excludes married women and men from the general protection against forced sex if the perpetrator is their spouse. A domestic violence bill that would change that has stalled in the parliamentary committee for nearly a year.

A recent report found that twenty seven percent of men here said a husband has the right to get angry with his wife and reprimand her if she refuses sex. 5 per cent said t is alright for a man to force his wife to have sex.

In Kenya, “Some people deny that marital rape exists because husbands and wives give their consent to be sexually available to each other when they make their wedding vows,” according to a 2011 briefing on the subject. “Others claim that it is a private and family matter.”

The result is that sexual violence committed by husbands against their wives usually goes unprosecuted and is often unreported.

The sexual offenses act Bill became law in Kenya in July 2006. The law contains 14 new crimes including gang rape, deliberate infection of HIV/ADS, trafficking for sexual exploitation and child pornography. It also introduces minimum sentences provides for the setting up of a DNA data bank and a pedophile registry and criminalizes sexual harassment.


In a country that ushered in an era of constitutional dispensation that guarantees equality of spouses, of protection, of minorities, the fact that it does not protect women against marital rape is wrong. So many   women suffer in silence because they do not know where to go to for help or how even to get that help.


In our typical African setting, it is forbidden for one to speak about her bedroom matters and many women believe that once you get married your husband can demand sex from you whenever he wants, and it is your duty to surrender to him.

This should not be happening in this time and era. everyone is equal before our law and ignoring such things is only undermining women in society and making it look like women’s problems do not matter to anyone.

Marital rape is a reality that needs to be dealt with immediately. Even though nobody talks about it and no one wants to, many women in society suffer in silence with no way out of abusive marriages. Some feel trapped and others and forced to stay in such marriages by their parents due to the financial benefits. Women’s rights are also human rights and should be put into consideration.

Facebook Comments

We'd love to hear your thoughts on this article

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.