‘When was the last time you raped your wife?

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Monday, May 19, 2014


THE question, directed at a husband on the witness stand, is a lawyer's cheap shot, which unfailingly draws noisy objection from the opposing lawyer.

Paul's letter to Ephesians raises the biblical injunction of obedience. But did he mean it to include forced sex?

Anti-Rape Law of 1997 doesn't specify "wife rape." But in defining rape, it mentions "man" and "woman" without saying they must not be married to each other; ergo, marital rape is covered.

A Cagayan de Oro wife in 1999 charged her husband with raping her twice in 1998. RTC convicted the husband, which Court of Appeals affirmed in 2002.

In a decision publicized last week, the SC upheld the ruling, the first marital rape case that has reached the high court.

Marriage is not a license for rape, the SC intoned, husbands don't have property rights over their wives' bodies.

The ruling was expected but it came 15 years after the complaint was filed and 17 years after the Philippines became one of 57 countries that criminalize marital rape.

Complaints aren't easily filed and prosecuting "wife rape" is tough.

Social norms

How many wives report forced sex? Social norms in our culture must heed Paul's injunction. If a husband beats his wife to have sex, she might pack up and leave but she's not likely to indict him and make the outrage public.

And knowing the case could drag for more than a decade, she'd rather let love die and the union end with the cold and empty bed.

(paseares@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 20, 2014.

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