Women Seek Legislation Against Marital Rape

Blantyre- Malawi (PANA) -- Women activists in Malawi are pressing for enactment of a law that would make marital rape a criminal offence.
The Malawi Chapter of Women in Law in Southern Africa (WILSA) is drafting a bill on the criminalisation of marital rape.
An official of WILSA said the proposed law would reduce occurences of this form of domestic violence.
Existing laws are silent on the problem.
"Courts have generally viewed the occurance of rape, as described under the penal code, as not applying to married couples.
"The exemption of husbands from prosecution under the offences of rape therefore totally fails to provide equal protection for all women," she said.
But Judge Duncan Tambala of the Supreme Court of Appeal says the country's laws do not regard marital rape, spousal battering and emotional abuse as offences.
"These are not offences under the penal code as adopted from the English law which forms the basis of our law," he said.
"As for marital rape, I have problems accepting such offences should be created.
" Tambala said a person could not be punished for having sex with a spouse because by entering into marriage, each spouse is taken to have consented to sexual intercourse with the other spouse during the existence of their marriage.
"This means there cannot be rape between spouses while their marriage subsists because the offence would be inconsistent with the continued existence of marriage," he explained.

11 june 2001 16:00:00

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