Criminalise forced marital sex, save women dying in silence – lawyer

A Lagos-based female lawyer, Mrs Esther Ajayi,
has called for amendment of laws against rape to accommodate punishment
of a man who forcefully has sexual intercourse with his wife.

In an interview with our correspondent in Lagos on Friday,
Ajayi said that forced sexual intercourse of any sort should be
criminalised as it could cause physical, psychological and emotional
damage to the victim.

“Rape is rape no matter who the perpetrator is;
a woman does not stop being vulnerable to pain
just because she is married.

“Women who are raped by their husbands are likely to be raped
many times,” she said.

She described forced sexual intercourse as a form of domestic violence.

According to her, many women are suffering from forced sexual relationship.

She said that domineering men viewed their wives as their property
and abused them sexually.

“Some women experience battery, brutality, torture and other perverse acts
because of sex.

“Women who are battered and raped can suffer from vaginal injuries,
broken bones, black eyes, miscarriages, fear, depression, intimacy
problems, among others,” the lawyer said.

Ajayi said that lack of criminalisation of `marital rape’ restrained the
struggle against violence against women.

“Absence of `marital rape’ law means victims
have no recourse and are, therefore, trapped in a
horrible situation.

“Under Nigeria’s Criminal Law (Section 357), a man cannot be charged
with raping his wife.

“Payment of bride price or presence of marriage certificate
should not be used as a licence to rape.

“The effect is still the same whether by a spouse or stranger,” she added.

She urged legislatures to re-examine the exemption of `marital rape’ from punishment.

“There should be legal consequences.

“Nigeria’s Criminal Law as well as other laws dealing with sexual
assault and rape should be amended to include `marital rape’.

“It must be recognised and punishment such as a lesser sentence
or a fine should be imposed on perpetrators.

“There must also be provisions for dedicated channels for
reporting spousal rape; a framework needs to be created to
cater for victims,” she said.

Commenting, Pastor Ezekiel Daniel of Assemblies of God Mission,
Igando, Lagos, said that marriage should not be an excuse to rape
one’s spouse.

“Sexual intercourse was designed by God to be an act of love within
marriage; violence should never be a part of it.

“Forced sex is not love.

“The Bible says in Colossians 3:19: “Husbands, love your wives and do
not be harsh with them,” the cleric noted.

According to him, 1 Corinthians 7:1–5 also teaches that each spouse is to willingly,
freely and lovingly submit to the other.

“Forcibly taking what has not been offered is wrong and plainly
against the Bible’s commands on love and marriage.

“Perpetrators should be prosecuted; that will serve as a deterrent
to others,” Daniel said.

He advised men and women forcefully having sexual
intercourse with their wives to repent, seek their
spouse’s forgiveness and get a godly counsellor to
guide them into the Biblical view of marriage and sex.

However, an Islamic cleric, Mr Mukalia Lawal of Ayobo
Muslim Community in Lagos State, said there was nothing
like a man raping his wife.

“A wife gives consent to sexual intercourse with her husband
upon entering the marriage contract; so,
husband is entitled to sex any time he demands it.

“It is better to force yourself on your wife than to seek
satisfaction from other women which will be adultery.

“There should not be any punishment nor sanction for any
man who forcefully has sex with his wife because he is
performing his duty,” the cleric said.

A divorcee, Mrs Motunrola Ojo, who claims to have been
constantly sexually abused by her former husband, said:

“I was giving my husband sex whenever he wanted it but I
refused whenever I was stressed out.

“He would ignore my plea, beat me and forcefully penetrate me.

“Whenever I visited a police station to report, they
would not attend to me but dismiss and
consider it a family matter.

“They would tell me to go and resolve it with my husband.

“My parents and pastor advised me to continue to forgive him,
endure the abuse and pray for God’s intervention,” she told NAN.

According to Ojo, the forced sexual intercourse made her
depressed and eventually opt for divorce.


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