Archive for October 15th, 2010

In case you did not catch this in the news yesterday, a Muslim cleric in the U.K. stated that it is not possible for a man to rape his wife, to which I reply bull$@#%! Because a sexual relationship is a part of marriage, he does not believe that a man should be prosecuted for raping his own wife.

First of all, I seriously doubt that many spousal rape cases are even pursued because of the difficulty of the he said/she said dynamic. I would guess that most of the spousal rape cases that actually make it into a courtroom involve couples who are separated and/or divorcing, which makes the assumption of sex in a marriage much more questionable. Setting that aside, it is never okay to overpower someone and rape him or her, whether you are married or not.

Additionally, most of the marital rape cases that are likely to be prosecuted also involved physical abuse. Rape tactics that are more emotionally coercive are very unlikely to be prosecuted or, quite frankly, even reported. How can you look a woman in her black and blue eyes lying in a hospital bed after being beaten and raped and tell her that the rape “doesn’t count” because she is married to the perpetrator? And then he gets a free pass to do this over and over again until the divorce is finalized??

One other spousal rape situation also happens in some marriages, and I am certain that few, if any, are even reported, but it is emotionally damaging. I have known wives whose husbands had intercourse with them while they were knocked out for some reason, either on alcohol or drugs (either legal or illegal). They did not know that any intercourse took place until the next morning when they saw the physical evidence. For wives with a history of sexual abuse, knowing that their bodies were taken without their permission is incredibly traumatizing. This is technically rape even if it will never see a courtroom.

I don’t understand why it is so difficult to respect that each person’s body is his or her own to share or not share sexually, whether married or not. What woman would choose to get married if she knew that she was forever giving up her rights to say who gets to touch her body, even when she burns with fever or has just given birth to a child? The marital bed needs to be a place of safety, not of abuse.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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