Tag Archives: marriage

Marital Rape Still a Global Issue

Marital Rape Still a Global Issue

We often think of the street as a dangerous environment, a kind of place that sexual assault and rape most often take place…

But believe it or not, it’s quite the opposite.

Rape is actually most common at the home, and sadly, a woman’s husband is more commonly the perpetrator. This particular form of rape is called marital rape, and it often plays out as it does in the following example:

You’re a woman who has just married a remarkable man, and a year into the marriage, he becomes the father to your newborn daughter. Life is great, until one night, you’re unlacing your heels in the bedroom when your husband grasps you by your hair and yanks you onto the bed, pushing himself onto you.

You try to shove him off but the weight on your chest feels like a ton of bricks on a layer of sandpaper. Hours later, while you stare down at your bruised arms, he tells you he lost control, and it will never happen again. You believe him… until it does.

As the years pass by, it gets worse. You’re being raped and beaten every day, you’ve lost the feeling of ownership to your own body, your family tells you to keep the marriage together, you’ve lost your friends. The only consolation you have is that this way you can protect your daughter, if at any time should his fury move from you to her.

But one cold, black night he gets really ruthless. Your husband forces intercourse multiple times. He beats you, your face is numb, your insides are torn, and your hope dwindles like the red spit dangling from our lower lip. At the soonest possible moment, you gather your daughter into your arms, and run like hell to the nearest police station. Your enraged husband trailing behind you, spattering insults. Your heart pounds as you thrust through the doors of the nearest police station, while your husband is seized by 2 officers. If you were living in a country where rape is criminalized, your husband would go to jail for what he has done to you.

If you were in one of the estimated 127 countries that do not criminalize rape within marriage, the story would unfold quite differently. In other countries, such as Singapore, you would be transferred to a hospital, inspected, and sent on your way. Your husband would face charges against the physical damage he has induced but charges of rape would be disregarded.

This is because marital rape isn’t a widely known term in Singapore, nor is it well-known in Norway, or several other countries where rape between a husband and wife isn’t highly criminalized. Because of this, most records of marital rape go undocumented, or more commonly unspoken of.

What is even more disturbing, is that in lower-income countries, such as in various areas of Africa and India , the government would refuse involvement. A victim of marital rape would be handed back over to your husband, who would likely repeatedly beat and rape her for disobeying him. The following example is given from a woman in Kanjuu, in a quote taken by the Canadian publication, The Globe and Mail:

“He’ll kick you out of the house, send you to the bush to spend the whole night outside with the kids. He’ll burn your clothes, kill your chickens and eat them and sell your goats,” said Ms. Wanjiku.

The primary reason this is allowed in these countries is that, upon marriage, a woman gives her identity to her spouse, and with this consent for him to do with her as he pleases. It is a matter of ownership. Many men in countries in which spousal rape is legal, believe they have a right to rape their wives if they deny them sex. The publication mentioned earlier goes onto explain this is legal terms:

“Seodi White, a lawyer from Malawi who joined the group when she was a visiting scholar at the University of Toronto, added that in Africa today, violence is often a part of the bargain: a man jamming a broken piece of furniture into his wife’s vagina, another applying a python to her vagina because a witch doctor told him it would then spit out coins, still another cutting off her labia majora and selling it as a charm – all of it legal, because she is his property.”

In Africa, women are more likely to be raped than to learn to read,” notes a source. This is not only damaging to women’s rights internationally, but to so many victims themselves. And furthermore, marital rape is not just a vast issue in countries outside the U.S., but in the U.S. itself, the U.S. Bureau of Justice statistics show: “In the U.S. alone, approximately 28% of victims are raped by husbands or boyfriends.”

There is a way to fight against the horrors of marital rape, and that is by encouraging victims to speak out, and if you suspect someone of being a victim of marital rape, let them know that you are there for them. This will give them a window of hope, so chose to slip out of it. We can also sign petitions to criminalize rape in countries where it is overlooked.

Every little effort we make can make a bigger difference in the lives of many future victims, and in some cases even prevent marital rape before it happens. This way women all over the world can live not in fear, but instead in a tranquil state of security.


Is marriage obsolete? 6 things to consider

Is marriage obsolete? 6 things to consider

By Dave Singleton

Nearly four in ten Americans think marriage is becoming obsolete. What?! Taken from a recent nationwide Pew Research Center survey entitled The Decline of Marriage and Rise of New Families (conducted in association with Time and complemented by demographic and economic data from the U.S. Census Bureau), this statistic shows the 11 percent spike since Time asked the same question of its readers in 1978. That new research figure is sending a few shockwaves through the country, especially among conservative groups who are up in arms over what they perceive to be the culprits; namely, the rise in the number of unmarried couples living together, single mothers, and same-sex relationships.

Are traditional marriages and nuclear families a thing of the past?

Clearly, there’s been a shift in attitudes about these cultural institutions, but overall, I don’t think they’re genuinely becoming obsolete. Over the past couple of generations, there’s been a relationship revolution going on. The 1950s model of American life — marriage in your early twenties followed by children, differences in socioeconomic status between men and women — has given way to newer and evolving ways of dating, mating and socializing in general.

If you take a look at current pop culture trends, you’ll see that we’re actually more in love with relationships than ever before. Ratings for TV shows like The Bachelor, Say Yes to the Dress, and Modern Family show that our love for relationships of every variety is going strong. We’re just less committed to how we make them happen and who gets to participate in the process. “If marriage is viewed as increasingly obsolete, it’s because we’re appreciating a wider range of options,” says Brian Powell, Professor of Sociology at Indiana University and coauthor of Counted Out: Same-sex Relations And Americans’ Definitions Of Family. “This doesn’t indicate a vote against marriage; more likely, it’s a vote for the diversity of family forms out there, even those without the legal imprimatur of marriage.”

But what does this all mean for the millions out there dating and relating? I pored over the research to bring to light the six survey implications that matter most for singles.

1. Ninety-five percent of younger respondents say I “still” do to marriage
Despite the rising figures for cohabitation and divorce, the new study shows that 44 percent of Americans under 30 believe marriage is heading for extinction, while only five percent of respondents in that same age group don’t want to get hitched. So, how do you wrap your mind around these two seemingly contradictory findings? A theory proposed by David Popenoe, a former Rutgers sociology professor and co-director of the National Marriage Project, is that the ones who called marriage “obsolete” may be voicing their own fears rather than expressing a genuine wish to see the institution disappear. Others think it may just be a case of semantics. The basics of committed relationships are solid, but the formalities involved could become increasingly less common. “Most Americans today take the marital relationship more seriously than ever before, expecting more intimacy, fairness and mutual respect,” says Stephanie Coontz, Director of Research and Public Education for the Council on Contemporary Families and author of A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s.

2. There’s a difference between “needing” and “wanting” to be married
We still want to get married, obviously… but maybe the bigger implication from the Pew Center’s survey is that we just don’t need it as much as we once did. In purely practical terms, marriage today is not like it was for previous generations. Socially, spiritually and symbolically, how we view it has changed greatly, and that factors into the results. “The truth is that we no longer feel that the marital institution is essential for [someone’s] social respectability or personal well-being,” says Coontz. “For the most part, that’s good news for singles. It means you can take your time making up your mind about whether or not you want to marry without being stigmatized the way singles were back in the 1960s. And the longer you take, the better your chances of forming a lasting partnership.”

3. When it comes to marriage views, money and education matter
Marriage remains the norm for adults with college educations and good incomes, but it’s now markedly less prevalent among poorer and less educated individuals. Why? It turns out we are much more into getting married if we can afford it — and maybe that’s a sign of the times. Getting married during a recession means not only considering whether you have enough money for the wedding and other associated costs, but also any concerns you might have about taking on a spouse’s debt. The survey found that people whose education ended with a high school diploma (or less) are just as likely to say they’d like to marry as those with college degrees, but the first group placed a higher premium on financial stability as one of the most important reasons to do so than the latter did (38 percent versus 21 percent, respectively).

4. We’re waiting longer to get hitched, but what’s so bad about that?
Census data shows that young people are waiting to marry until they’re a few years older nowadays. The median age for first marriages in the U.S. is at its highest point ever. For women, it’s 26.1 years of age, and for men, it’s 28.2. On top of that, for the first time in half a century, unmarried people between the ages of 25 and 34 outnumber their married counterparts in the same age range. But here’s good news for all the twenty-somethings who feel like they’re never going to meet the right mate and settle down: younger people are waiting until they’re better educated, better off financially, and more mature first. They’ve seen their parents’ generation divorce at unprecedented rates (approximately 50 percent), and frankly, they don’t want that to happen to them. Maybe they just want to get it right by taking their time, and if you ask me, that’s cause for celebration. It actually shows reverence for marriage, not disdain.

5. Being in a less traditional relationship does not equal less happiness
Everyone talks about the “good old days.” In marriage terms, we think of role models such as Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, who were the perfect 1950s couple. Here’s a wild notion implied by the research: maybe couples today are actually happier. Yes, there’ve been dramatic changes to the way couples live now — for example, more cohabitation vs. marriage — but it’s clear that the importance of family still remains strong. Seventy-six percent of adults claim that their family is the most important thing to them (regardless of how it’s structured), 75 percent say they are “very satisfied” with their family life, and more than eight in 10 say the family they live in now is as close as (45 percent) or closer than (40 percent) the family in which they were raised. More than half of the people living with someone (as opposed to being married) report that they have a better relationship with their romantic partners than their parents did when they were growing up. Marriage might be viewed as an increasingly obsolete tradition, but it’s clear that marriage, relationships and family are ultimately still quite satisfying.

6. Feelings about marriage are relative
It’s hard to evaluate the findings of this survey without assessing the role that timing plays in shaping people’s views. Maybe people are just more cynical in general these days. Consider how the study’s marriage findings compare with other key areas of life: more Americans (67 percent) remain optimistic about marriage than about the educational system (50 percent), economy (46 percent) or human morality (41 percent). Think about that for a minute; it means we’re actually more upbeat about marriage than we are about our chances of educating our kids, making a decent living, or being a good person. When it comes to love, obsolescence is clearly in the eye of the beholder. Based on this research, I’d say there’s plenty of validation and support for singles looking to create meaningful relationships on their own terms — including, but not limited to, the ever-revered tradition of marriage.

Dave Singleton, an award-winning writer and columnist for Match.com since 2003, is the author of two books on dating and relationships. Send your dating questions and comments to him at [email protected]