Academic journal article Ife Psychologia

Perception of Spousal Rape among Lagos State University Undergraduates

Academic journal article Ife Psychologia

Perception of Spousal Rape among Lagos State University Undergraduates

Article excerpt

The recognition of sex in the context of marriage as crime is strange. Men are often accused of exclusively perpetrating this culturally alien offence which exclusively causes enormous trauma to women within the family. This study examines the perception of undergraduates about marital rape among married couples in Lagos metropolis. Multistage sampling procedure was adopted to randomly select 240 respondents on whom copies of a questionnaire were administered. Four focus group discussions and twelve in-depth interviews were conducted. The study found that majority of respondents acknowledged the prevalence of marital rape; they solicited criminalisation of marital rape committed on sick victims. Opposing stiff penalty for marital rapists, respondents however strongly supported psychiatric observation of marital rape offenders. The study suggests that public policy should make divorce a lot more elastic to facilitate the exit of individuals who may feel trapped in tragic marriages which expose them to indiscriminate rape.

Keywords: Marital Rape, Criminalisation, Marriage, Divorce, Psychiatric Observation.

Culture is globally a fertilised terrain for the justification of the preclusion of marital rape from public examination or review, everywhere. As a result, the observation of Russell (1990) that marital rape is a widespread problem for women that have existed for centuries throughout the world could not have adequately captured the exact realities of the phenomenon in some traditional societies of the world. Men too, everywhere, have their unpublished rape challenges. Whereas, marital rape has been described as 'one of the most serious violations of a women's bodily integrity' it is a term that many people still have a problem comprehending, with some still describing it as a 'contradiction in terms' (South African Law Commission, 1997; Ali, 2008). Studies on sexual victimization in the West indicate that although many sexual assaults involved victims and assailants who were complete strangers, most sexual assaults occurred between assailants and victims who were acquainted or had close relationships prior to the assault (Johnson, 2007; Palermo & Farkas, 2001; Stermac, Del Bove & Addison, 2001; Terry, 2006).

Though Nigeria is among the few nations of the world where wife's rape constitutes an exception to rape as an offence, the incidence of rape is becoming very rampart (Nkwam, Osita-Njoku & Madukwe, 2011). Traditionally, a marital relationship is a contract, not only between the couples but also their families. In this contract, it is implied that sexual intercourse is not considered a seriously negotiable item. In the context of marriage, it is normally assumed that the provision of sex whenever either of the couples demands it is a desideratum. Therefore, rape of a wife is generally not recognized as an offence by customaiy laws in Nigeria and is not penalized even when the wife suffers bodily harm in the course of the husband forcefully having sex with her (Joda, Zubairu,, Abdulwaheed, Giwa, Abass, Adidu,... & Balogun, 2007) and vice versa. In spite of all these, rape still tends to be viewed as less serious, and less physically and emotionally damaging, than are other violent crimes (Frese, Moya, & Megias, 2004; Russell, 1998).

It is for the foregoing consideration that previous research has revealed that males and females tend to have different perceptions of rape (Barnett, Quackenbush, Sinisi, Wegman, & Otney, 2001; Blumberg & Lester, 1991; Nagel, Matsuo, McIntyre, & Morrison, 2005). An even greater disparity exists, however, between males' and females' perceptions of marital rape (Auster & Leone, 2001; Basile, 2002; Ewoldt, Monson, & Langhinrichsen-Rohling, 2000.; Jeffords & Dull, 1982; Monson, Byrd, & Langhinrichsen-Rohling, 1996). These inconsistencies make the question of marital rape deserving of investigation. Research has shown that marital rape survivors are twice as likely to suffer physical injuiy compared to rape by strangers (Myhill & Allen, 2002). …

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