WOW | Men Speak

MARITAL RAPE A Crime or Not

Samir Ghimire
Senior Programme and Partnership Officer (Human Rights), Governance Facility Nepal

For me, marital rape is a grave and widespread form of violence experienced by the spouse. It affects women disproportionately due to deeply entrenched patriarchal norms and culture. For me, marital rape is a serious violation of women’s human rights, dignity and self respect. In any civilised society, marital rape should not be tolerated. Although many women suffer from marital rape on a routine basis, it is an issue that is not openly discussed and reported as a crime.

Many women have no knowledge or awareness regarding marital rape, and regard rape by spouse as something to be tolerated and kept under wraps. Various international human rights instruments have recognised marital rape not only as a form of violence against women but also a serious violation of women’s human rights. Even when marital rape is criminalised, as it happened in Nepal in 2006, women do not report their husbands due to social and economic reasons. It makes me sad to know that cases that get reported are resolved through counselling at the police station, and not prosecuted. As a result, women are vulnerable to retaliation by her spouse and compelled to stay under the same roof with her husband due to economic and societal pressure.

I think, addressing marital rape requires strong and effective legislative measures, massive awareness regarding various forms of violence against women including marital rape, robust state support-system for victims of marital rape, opportunities for women to strengthen their social, political and economic standing, along with changes in the patriarchal norms and culture in our society.