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The Bahamian Marital Rape Law

October 14, 2009

There has been much debate recently in The Bahamas over an amendment to a law to make it illegal for a man to rape his wife, because, you know, pretty much every other country in the world has this law.

It has been met with much opposition from the conservative Christians who believe in the literal Bible – that when a couple marries they literally give their bodies to their partner. Ergo, a man can have sex with his wife whether she wants it or not.

Thankfully there has also been support of the amendment, mainly from educated women.

As a married man, I’ve been somewhat silent on the issue thus far, but a letter published in one of the papers today changed my mind. Below you’ll see a letter I wrote in response to the conservative viewpoint.

EDITOR, The Tribune.

Ever since the government proposed an amendment to the marital rape law I’ve watched with incredulity the range of discussion back and forth on the issue and, frankly, the ignorance portrayed by so many people who stand against the amendment is astounding. As a married Bahamian man I am embarrassed that so many of my fellow citizens can be so easily led down the path of ignorance.

For religious leaders in this country to publicly stand against a law that protects a woman from sexual abuse at the hands of her husband is unbelievable. In fact, it makes one wonder whether many of these men are running scared – they’re worried that if the law is passed they’ll no longer be allowed to exercise their misogynistic dominion over their wives.

The fact of the matter is that a wife claiming that her husband raped her is no different than a girlfriend claiming the same thing, or even a woman accusing her male friend. The man will not be convicted without sufficient evidence against him. An accusation does not mean instant imprisonment.

I’ve kept my mouth shut on the issue thus far, but recent letters published in the press have forced me to respond.

Many of these letters embody the rampant fallacies surrounding this issue. The various writers seem to believe that the passing of this law will increase promiscuity and infidelity among Bahamian men, and destroy the “sanctity” of marriage.

According to many of the letter writers, if a man comes home from work and requires sex and if his wife doesn’t give it to him, then the man will immediately go out and find somebody else to have sex with. The blame, of course, falls on the wife who was spiteful and only refused sex because the couple had an argument. Apparently a wife not being in the mood for lovemaking isn’t reason enough to refuse sex. Is that all it takes? Is it considered the wife’s fault that her husband cheats on her because she didn’t want sex at the same time he did (which, apparently, is spiteful behaviour)? If a man really feels this way then his marriage is already in trouble, and no marital rape law is going to exacerbate the problem.

The country is already battling with issues of infidelity, promiscuity and the decay of marriage. “Sweethearting” is rampant and, worst of all, socially accepted. The number of children growing up without fathers is increasing year after year, and in turn is helping to cause our crime rate to spiral out of control due to a lack of proper male role models in their lives. No amendment to a law is going to cause an increase in these problems – we’ve already been facing them for years, and our religious leadership is mostly staying quiet.

Simply put, good men who treat their wives with love and respect needn’t fear any marital rape law. And those men who do not treat their spouse respectfully should fear this law because what they are doing to the person they are supposed to love and cherish most in this world is disgusting and should not be tolerated in any modern society.

It comes down to a matter of love and respect. If men in this country truly loved and respected their wives, girlfriends and friends, there would be no need for this law. Unfortunately, we do need it, and nobody who considers him or herself to be a moral human being should oppose it.

A. Henderson
October 14, 2009

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    October 15, 2009 12:10 am

    It truly is disturbing the fact that “religious leaders” in our country are against this law. It shows their sheer ignorance and stupidity.
    The Bahamian men that are also against this – saying that they will have to go out and find someone else to have sex with if their wife won’t please them the second they demand their pleasure – are vile, scum of the Earth.
    Bahamian Christians, and we all know the “type” that I am referring to, are so fucking ignorant, hypocritical, etc., etc., etc. …
    This was an extremely well written letter, expressing the views of the mentally sound Bahamians out there, although I’m not sure how many are left.

    • sleepwalkingwriter permalink*
      October 15, 2009 9:42 am

      I agree. The problem isn’t with Christians as a whole (though I do have my problems with them, but that’s another matter for another time) as many of the established denominations (Catholicism, Anglican, etc.) are fully in support of women’s rights and are behind this marital rape law.

      It’s the small, self-founded “churches” and “ministries” where the religious “leaders” have received no formal theological training and interpret Scripture according to their worldview and upbringing. And, if their father was a cheater and disrespected women, then that’s what they’ll often end up believing and that view will insert itself into their biblical teachings, thus passing the message on to their congregation who are so eager to be “saved” that they’ll follow these men into hell.

      As for mentally competent Bahamians… there are some left still. But they need to speak up, lest their rational voices be drowned out by the roar of the ignorant populace.

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