Sun | Dec 11, 2016

LETTER OF THE DAY - Marital rape: call it something else

Published:Thursday | November 6, 2014 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir: As far as I know, sexual intercourse between two people in a marriage is not just legally and morally acceptable, it is considered an INTRINSIC part of it - so intrinsic in fact, that its significance is set out both in religion and in law. The law of the land recognises the importance of intercourse in marriage to the extent that it lays down grounds for dissolution of the union in the event that intercourse did not occur (marriage not being consummated). In other words: society recognises the no-copulation, no-marriage rule.

Simply put: Rape is having sex with someone without their consent. So then ... how can one rape one's wife who had in fact given consent? When was consent given? I am no lawyer, but based on the law's expressed recognition of the importance of sex in a marriage, logic would lead me to believe that consent was given for sex at the point where the marriage ceremony is complete and the necessary legal documents signed.

In other words, immediately upon marrying a man, the woman accepts the normal, natural, legal, and moral responsibility of copulating with her husband. That blanket consent, I would expect, remains in place for the duration of the marriage - except in cases where there is a legal separation and/or estrangement of the partners because of their individual marital difficulties.

So if sex is a normal part of marriage, and the woman had in effect given consent upon marrying the man - and both are in fact still in the union, how can it be rape?

Okay, let's say a bride does NOT automatically give consent to sex upon becoming married, the only logical conclusion one could draw from this would be that sex is no longer an entitlement, but is rather a privilege which the wife (and I suppose, the husband) can withdraw on a whim. In other words, sex is NO LONGER AN ACCEPTABLE NOR NORMAL PART OF MARRIAGE.

MODERN RULES OF MARRIAGE

Will someone come forward and explain to us if this is so? Because, if the new rules apply, it certainly IS NOT a normal part of marriage! And if it is, could someone please tell us the relevant parameters under which these rules will operate? Because if the law of the land is now venturing into matrimonial beds to decide when and where and how consent may be given and/or withdrawn, then the term 'sanctity of marriage' is no longer a concept that we should hold dear.

This is not to suggest in any way that a man has any right to abuse his wife's body in any way, shape, or form. I simply have a problem with the term and concept: 'marital rape'. Call it something else. For me, it is simply a question of semantics. The two - (a) rape within (b) marriage - are logically, morally and legally irreconcilable.

XAVIER NEWTON-BRYANT

x.newtonbryant@hotmail.com