Can a Husband rape his Wife? (guide + examples)

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

I’m sure this question might not be new to 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.

What is marital rape?

Marital rape or spousal rape refers to sexual intercourse with one’s spouse without the consent of the spouse.

That happens when a husband has sex with his wife without her consent even if no physical violence is involved.

Marital rape is regarded as a type of sexual abuse and domestic violence.

Can a Husband rape his Wife?

Yes, a husband can rape his wife.

Although Historically couples were seen to have a right to engage in sexual activity while still married regardless of the consent issues, today many countries around the world consider engaging in sexual activities without the spouse’s consent as rape.

This position has been insisted on by international conventions, and domestic laws, and is increasingly criminalized by different nations.

Criminalization has occurred in various ways, including the 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.

All states in the US currently recognize rape in marriage as a crime, and the majority of them prosecute the offense similarly to how rape would be prosecuted between strangers.

Approximately 10-14% of married women are raped by their husbands in the United States (source)

Other countries that accept marital rape as illegal include; Russia, Sweden, Austria Canada, Burundi, Cameroon, and South Africa.

See the list of all countries here.

In Tanzania, as a general rule, a husband can’t rape his wife except if 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.

Proving Marital Rape

Because it can be more difficult to demonstrate that the victim did not give her consent, proving rape by a husband is frequently more challenging.

While this can be reasonably easy to prove in the instance of stranger rape, married couples typically have consensual sex, therefore it can be difficult to demonstrate that the sexual activity was not nonconsensual without proof of marital strife or separation.

For example, In South Carolina, marital rape cases cannot be prosecuted unless the offending spouse’s actions were reported to the police within 30 days of the incident. (See S.C. Code 16-3-615.)

Further, in some instances of marital rape, Virginia allows for marital or individual counseling instead of legal action.

Punishment of Marital rape

Generally, the punishment of marital rape is just like a punishment of an ordinary rape- fines and prison terms that vary between several years and life in prison depending on the severity of the circumstances of the crime.

In the US In some states, a person convicted of raping their spouse may be subject to alternative punishment.

For instance, in Virginia, if the rapist’s spouse successfully completes a court-approved counseling program, the court may waive fines and prison sentences.

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
Isack Kimaro

Editor-in-chief and founder of sherianajamii.com. Holder of Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) and Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. Lawyer by profession and blogger by passion