Wed | Mar 21, 2018

Ownership or relationship: marital rape

Published:Friday | June 30, 2017 | 12:00 AM


As the debate of the revision of the Sexual Offences Act continues in public space, particularly in relation to marital rape, it increasingly seems to be an authentic discussion regarding ownership versus relationship. What is the deference between ownership and relationship?

From the plantocracy to the present, the framework of ownership has been authenticated through documents, including titles, certificates, brandings, name change, to name a few. Somewhat similarly, ownership of each other is generally entrenched in the psyche of married persons, not only because of the issuance of certificate, change of name, and the symbolic commitment bond of rings, but also because of joking utterances of some marriage officers regarding spouses 'owning each other'.

This philosophy of ownership, albeit to a lesser extent and in a different context as in the days of slavery, can likewise lead to all sorts of abuse, not excluding sexual cruelty. However, these are all indicators of marital deficits somehow resulting from character deficiency. Is marriage an ownership contract or a relationship covenant?




In a covenant relationship, "they are no more twain, but one flesh." (Matthew 19:6 KJV). Such covenant in the biblical sense presupposes accountability to a higher being than the male and female parties of the marriage. While God alone is the true owner of the marital parties, He requires of them for each other a relationship that is truly based on love that protects, trust that affirms, respect that cherishes one's right, and at the same time displays unselfishness towards fulfilling each other's need. Ideally in such context of love, trust, respect, and unselfishness, marital rape will not be an issue. But is society more ideal than it is not?

In legislating towards guarding against any form of marital abuse and their consequences, care must be taken to legislate, leaving room for relationship rather than ownership.

Legislation in seeking to protect married partners from marital rape, notwithstanding the view that it, in most cases, will be difficult to prove, are not to be means towards mere prevention, but are to be prudent measures towards leading partners back to 'relationship' values of love, trust, respect, and unselfishness.

Is not it a challenging profession being a legislator?