Marital/spousal rape: Can a Husband rape his Wife? (legal perspective)


Today I’m going to talk about marital rape also known as spousal rape. here I will answer the question that can a husband rape his wife?

I’m sure this question might not be new for you however its answer may amuse you.

One may think that once married he cannot rape his spouse since she consented to the marriage. Does consent to marriage entails consent to sexual intercourse?

whether a can husband rape his wife depends on the law of a specific country. There are countries where a husband can’t rape his wife and others that recognize marital rape.

Let’s review the law

Can a Husband rape his Wife?

In Tanzania, as a general rule, a husband can’t rape his wife except there is a separation or divorce, then if a husband has sexual intercourse with her he may be convicted of rape. The law recognizes even separation arranged by the family or clan members. Tanzania law assumes that once a wife consented to the marriage, she consented to sexual intercourse.

Apart from that position in Tanzania where sexual intercourse within marriage is regarded as a right of spouses, from the 20th Century in many societies around the world, sexual intercourse without the spouse’s consent is not only take the form of sexual assaults and domestic violence but also recognized by law as RAPE.   This position has been insisted on by international conventions, domestic laws, and is increasingly criminalized by different nations.

Countries that accept marital rape as illegal include U.S.A, Russia, Sweden, Austria Canada, Burundi, Cameroon, and South Africa. See the list of all countries here.

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Criminalization has occurred in various ways, including removal of statutory exemptions from the definitions of rape, judicial decisions, and explicit legislative reference in statutory law preventing the use of marriage as a defense, or creating a specific offense of marital rape.

Final remarks

Traditionally before the 20th century, a husband cannot rape a wife however with some movements now in some jurisdictions a husband can rape his wife.

Therefore you have to satisfy yourself with the law of your land on this issue to avoid unnecessary concerns.

Read also:  Can a female rape a male?

Isack Kimaro

Editor-in-chief and founder of sherianajamii.com. Holder of Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) from Mzumbe University and Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law school of Tanzania. Lawyer by profession and blogger by passion.

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