Bahamian judge rules there’s no rape in marriage

Francis Akhalbey September 02, 2022
A Sudanese woman has been sentenced to death for adultery -- Photo Credit: StockMonkeys.com

A High Court judge in The Bahamas ruled that the Caribbean nation does not have any law surrounding marital rape – although she accepted that a husband was cruel for forcefully having sex with his wife on several instances when they were married.

According to The Gleaner, Justice Denise Lewis-Johnson made the ruling during a divorce hearing. The divorce was filed by a woman who alleged her husband having sex with her without her consent left her feeling like a rape victim “for an extensive period of time.” But the judge said “there is no rape in marriage” under the laws of the island nation.

The woman, who was married to her ex-husband for 15 years, filed the divorce alleging cruel treatment. The woman alleged her husband made her suffer emotional and mental abuse during their marriage

The woman informed the court that the last time she and her husband had sex was last year. She claimed she had a mental breakdown when she went to work the following day, adding that what happened on that particular day “felt like an out of body experience.”

The petitioner alleged being intimate with her husband had turned into a “chore” and “lacked intimacy.”

“The petitioner alleged that it was standard for the respondent to come home, ask for sex and if she refused, (forcefully penetrate her) have sex with her and when he was satisfied, roll over, watch television, use his computer or go to sleep,”  the court was informed.

But the husband, in response to the allegations, claimed it was rather his wife who had cruelly treated him. He said that though he respectfully waited till marriage before having sex with his wife, the petitioner was not meeting his sexual needs as a result of her work endeavors. He said he believes a  “wife’s obligation is to have sex with her husband.”

The husband also claimed he did not have any extra-marital affairs though his wife stopped having sex with him in 2021. He also said his wife not telling him that he felt like a rape victim played a part in him feeling mentally abused, The Gleaner reported.

And though the judge ultimately granted the divorce and accepted the evidence from the petitioner, she said there are no Bahamian laws surrounding rape in marriage. 

“The petitioner’s evidence was heavily weighted on acts of sexual intercourse between the parties that she described as acts of rape by the respondent.  I will not recount her evidence save to say that she states that as a result of the respondent’s behaviour, she felt like a rape victim. She further alleges that her physical and mental health have been negatively affected,” Justice Lewis-Johnson said in her ruling.

The judge added that even though the court doesn’t deny that rape is a “most heinous act of cruelty”, a thorough reading of Bahamian law establishes there is “no rape in marriage” in the Caribbean nation.

“Pursuant to Section 3 of the Sexual Offences Act, the law does not allow for one spouse to rape the other. In this place we interpret existing laws and apply them, we cannot and must not succumb to the temptation to reform laws.”

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