Marital Rape

Topics: Marriage, Rape, Sexual intercourse Pages: 7 (2412 words) Published: September 29, 2013

Rape is defined as any act of sexual intercourse which a person is compelled to take part in under duress or through the application of physical force. Rape is derived from the ancient word ‘Raptus’ which implied theft, either of property or possession. The question here is, how did it to come to apply to this horrific crime? The answer is simple. In the minds of the bigoted population, rape was nothing more than a theft of their reputation. It was another man wrongfully attempting to take what was their possession, their property without their consent. Keeping in mind that women were considered little more than chattel, this definition took rape to be a crime against the husband or the father. Marital rape is non-consensual sex where the perpetrator is the victim’s spouse or an ex-spouse. Applying the above analysis to the definition of marital rape brings us to the conclusion, is it even rape? Certainly our ancestors wouldn’t have thought so. Because why would a man need consent from his own property? Women were little more than wholly owned subsidiaries, who were expected to supply sex at any time, as a part of their ‘marital duty’. Then the feminist movement came, which gave rise to the concept of rape being a crime against the woman. It refuted and ridiculed the idea of rape being a crime against anyone but the victim. Although this movement was successful in raising awareness and bringing changes in the legal and societal outlook on rape, it failed to do so in the case of marital rape, which remains either condoned or ignored by many legal systems. The reasons for this have been explained in the next section. FACTORS- LEGAL AND SOCIETAL

Conventionally, women were considered the legal equivalent of a minor, who needed their guardians to ratify their every act and be responsible for them. They belonged first to their fathers and then to their husbands. Being little more than chattel, the wife had no say in the marriage and was merely expected to ‘be a good wife’ whenever the husband demanded it. This notion, sadly, remains unchanged in many parts of the world even today. As such, it was a part of the wife’s duty to her husband to be sexually available. Thus, it followed that a spouse could not legally revoke consent to sex, and where there was consent there could be no rape. Married women have always been treated as black sheep when it comes to rape. Socially or legally, they hardly have any remedy for the wrong committed against them. “It is little wonder that rape is one of the least-reported crimes. Perhaps it is the only crime in which the victim becomes the accused and, in reality, it is she who must prove her good reputation, her mental soundness, and her impeccable propriety.”- Freda Adler The above quote was also applicable in the case of marital rape. A woman claiming that her husband forced himself on her was scorned and argued to have brought it upon herself. She had to prove herself that this perverse act actually happened and that she would not be okay with it. LEGAL-

In many countries, women were not legally permitted to take part in any economic activity without their husband’s consent. In Spain, a woman had to get a man’s permission even for travelling away from home. A woman was considered dependent on a man to such an extent that in 1707, English Lord Chief Justice John Holt described the act of a man having sexual relations with another man's wife as "the highest invasion of property". This is why rape was considered a similar crime to adultery, for they both intended to injure a man’s reputation. All these legal provisions only strengthened the duplicity in the treatment of marital rape.

Marital rape leaves a woman feeling more traumatized and disturbed than rape by a stranger. This is partly because, in cases of marital rape, the incident is hardly ever isolated but rather,...
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