Marriage: the state of being a married couple voluntarily joined for life (www. google. com). Wikipedia defines marriage as a relationship and bond, most commonly between a man and a woman, which plays a key role in the definition of many families. Precise definitions vary historically and between and within cultures, but it has been an important concept as a socially sanctioned bond in a sexual relationship. Nowhere in here does it state that undesired sexual intercourse is a normal part of this commitment.
In any relationship, there is a desire to please your mate; but how far should that go? In this paper, I will discuss current views on marital rape, laws concerning the issue, and the physical and psychological effects marital rape has on the woman. While the legal definition varies within the United States, marital rape can be defined as any unwanted intercourse or penetration (vaginal, anal, or oral) obtained by force, threat of force, or when the wife is unable to consent (Bergen, 1996). Marital rape is a touchy issue.
It is one that bears a lasting impact on the woman, both physically and psychologically; yet it is still an issue that has not been given the adequate attention it deserves as compared to rape by a stranger. Socially, marital rape is a term that few are able to accept and understand. Many still hold the view that once the bond of marriage has been entered, it is the woman’s duty to satisfy her husband. Researchers estimate that 10% and 14% of married women experience rape in marriage (www. vawnet. org/domesticviolence/research).
It should be noted that most statistical data come from women who were in battered women’s shelters at the time of collection. There seems to be a stigma of reporting rape in marriage. There is a tendency to blame yourself for the act. This is one reason for underreporting. Marital rape is different from stranger rape because it betrays the fundamental basis of the marital relationship (http://www. hiddenhurt. co. uk/Articles/maritalrape. htm). Women tend to look for excuses as to why their husbands forced them into having sex. They may find reasons to blame themselves for the rape.
This, in a sense, justifies the act. Women may also hesitate to report because of family loyalty, fear of their husband’s retribution, inability to leave the marriage, or they may not know that rape in marriage is against the law. But, rape is rape. No means no. On July 5, 1993, marital rape became a crime in all 50 states, under at least one section of the sexual offense codes (www. vawnet. org/domesticviolence/research). In 17 states, there are no exemptions from rape prosecution; however, there are still 33 states that allow exemption for husbands from prosecution.
Most exemptions include situations where the wife was most vulnerable. These include when she is physically or mentally impaired, unconscious, asleep; or is legally unable to consent. The existence of some spousal exemptions in the majority of states indicates that rape in marriage is still treated as a lesser crime than other forms of rape. This is expressing the message that such acts of violence and aggression are somehow less important than other types of rape. It also expresses the notion that wives are the property of their husbands and the marriage contract is an entitlement to sex.
Marital rape can have lasting effects on the woman. There are physical, gynecological, and psychological effects as a result of the rape. The physical effects of marital rape may include injuries to the vaginal and anal areas, lacerations, soreness, bruising, torn muscles, fatigue, and vomiting (Adams, 1993; Bergen, 1996). Severe battering and raped women may suffer such physical injuries as broken bones, black eyes, bloody noses, and knife wounds. In one study it was found that one half of the marital rape survivors were kicked, hit or burned during sex (www. vawnet.
org/domesticviolence/research). Some gynecological effects include vaginal stretching, miscarriages, stillbirths, bladder infections, infertility, and the potential contraction of sexually transmitted diseases (Campbell & Alford, 1989). Psychological effects may include depression, disordered eating, disordered sleeping, problems establishing trusting relationships and increased negative feelings about themselves. Some marital rape survivors report flashbacks, sexual dysfunction, and emotional pain for years after the violence (www. vawnet. org/domesticviolence/research).
According to a survey conducted by poll. pollhost. com, 66% of people surveyed felt that marital rape should be penalized the same as stranger rape, 15 % thought marital rape should be treated more severely, 13% thought marital rape should be treated less severely, and 6% were not really sure. Although we have made positive steps in the past twenty years to recognize marital rape as crime, more attention needs to be made public. Religious advisers, police officers, and battered women’s shelter advocates need to be more adequately trained in handling this type of intimate crime.
There are still 33 states that recognize some form of exemption from marital rape. Anything against a woman’s consent is considered rape, whether it by done against her by a stranger or by her intimate partner, regardless of the situation or mental capacity. No means no, and rape is rape. Works Cited Basile, Kathleen C. Prevalence of wife rape and other intimate partner sexual coercion in a nationally representative sample of women. Violence and Victims 17. 5 (Oct 2002): 511(14). Expanded Academic ASAP. Thomson Gale.
University of South Alabama (AVL). Bergen, R. K. (1996). Wife rape: Understanding the response of survivors and service providers. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Bergen, R. K. (1999). www. vawnet. org/domesticviolence/research. http://www. google. com http://www. hiddenhurt. co. uk/Articles/maritalrape. htm http://www. wikipedia. com Whatley, M. A. (2005). The Effect of Participant Sex, Victim Dress, and Traditional Attitudes on Causal Judgments for Marital Rape Victims. Journal of Family Violence. Vol. 20. No. 3, June 2005.