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Marital rape prevalent in Zimbabwe

A lot of women are raped by their husbands in Zimbabwe daily but the majority do not report such cases because they fear destroying their marriages, women’s rights activists have said.


Marital rape is any unwanted sexual act by a spouse or ex-spouse, committed against a person’s will, obtained by force, intimidation, or when a person is unable to consent.

The activists said cultural norms, religious beliefs and general low self-esteem contributed immensely to sexual abuse of women by their husbands.

Women and Aids Support Network (WASN) director, Mary Sandasi said many women were putting their health at risk simply because they wanted to protect and preserve their marriages.

“Marital rape is a complex issue as most of these women, in trying to safeguard their marriages, tolerate the abuse while they are being violated,” she said. “There is need to raise more awareness in the community and educate women about the available legal channels. There are many issues at play here: cultural barriers, low self-esteem and even religious dictates.”

Social commentator and talk show host, Rebecca Chisamba said most women were not empowered enough and called for a radical shift of mindsets on the subject which she said had been neglected for too long.

“Too many things are happening between spouses. People must speak out so that we all know,” said Mai Chisamba, as she is popularly known.

But Sandasi disputed the assumption that it was only “poor women” who tolerated the crime for fear of losing financial support.

“Educated and professional women are also victims of this crime,” she said.

Mai Chisamba said most men were ill-advised because they looked at their wives as acquired assets that they can use as they please after paying lobola (bride price).

“That mindset has to be changed because many women fail to negotiate for safe sex and are at risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases,” she said. “Women too should not just take the abuse quietly. There is too much hero worshipping of husbands going on out there.”

The devastating psychological effects of marital rape are captured aptly in a journal penned by a woman who for years suffered at the hands of her husband.

An excerpt from her piece titled Recovering from Marital Rape: A Personal Journey reads:
“I knew that if I did not escape the daily abuse, I would end up doing something ‘stupid’,” said the woman who remained anonymous. “Suicidal thoughts and images swirling round my head were all too common. I had taken to self-harming and neglecting myself, but it was finding myself trying to work out how to first kill the children before killing myself, that brought me to my senses.”

Married women had no legal protection until 2001 when the Sexual Offences Act came into effect, making marital rape a punishable crime.

According to the Act, marital rape carries a charge similar to that of rape.

Sadly, only a few women have actually put this piece of legislation to use and yet the magnitude of the crime is too huge to disregard.

Women’s rights activists said there has not been enough discussion around the topic, which is considered sensitive and deeply rooted in cultural dimensions that are too complex to tackle.

For many, it is difficult to accept that marital rape is a crime simply because the perpetrator and victim have a relationship and live together.

But other women started reporting cases of marital rape.

A soldier based at Induna Barracks in Bulawayo was recently slapped with a twelve-year jail sentence for raping his 22-year-old wife.

According to court records, the 27-year-old locked up his wife in the bedroom, stuffed her mouth with a dirty wet shirt, and tied her hands with an electrical cable.

He also tied her legs with a piece of wire and brutally raped her.

Such cases are common but they go unreported.

why are women not speaking against marital rape?

Many explanations have been proffered on why some women stay in intimate relationships that are violent or abusive. Societal pressures top the list with many women opting to keep quiet for fear of being reprimanded by their peers or because they are ashamed to speak out.

The other explanation is that some women are financially dependent on their husbands and are convinced they cannot make it on their own.

9 Responses to Marital rape prevalent in Zimbabwe

  1. xinyori August 12, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

    kudzidza kwenyu uku, chirungu chenyu ichi. surely this is nonsense to read

  2. tak5 August 12, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

    so thats why tichizoenda kuma Small-houses tozouya neAIDS vakadzi hamufungi–vermins

  3. Morgan August 12, 2013 at 7:21 pm #

    ukaona uine marriage inobuda nyaya yekuti pabatwa chibharo, wagara hauna marriage. mumba imomo munenge mune kusawirirana kukuru and the so called rape will only be a symptom. I’d rather we look at those underlying issues first. suing husband who is usually the breadwinner is an ‘abomination’ for some victims. let there be intensive marriage counseling uye munhu ngaarege kumhanya pakusarudza partner

  4. Black Crow August 13, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

    it all starts on how people marry each other, that is the foundation and if it is weak, the marriage will be weak. while i do not condone violence in marriages, women make the biggest blunder by looking at financial strength of a man than love.

    think about petty issues like buying a girlfriend airtime,ice cream etc.a boyfriend who can hardly satisfy her girlfriend on those issues is deemed stingy and is dumped at the slightest opportunity.what does the girl do next? simple, they get a guy who can easily provide those things and they call it love.

    is that love? women are their own victims. love is a matter of choice and if you make a poor choice why blame your partner? you should have sniffed danger when you were still boyfriend and girlfriend. very few people change their character so its easy to detect an abuser at an early stage.

  5. Dzakutsaku August 15, 2013 at 8:41 am #

    Surely these women’s rights activists spend most of their time talking such nonsense. Go to hell you sinners.

  6. wasu August 15, 2013 at 10:59 am #

    mary sandasi anemurume here kana akatadza kuchengetedza imba yake avakuda kufurira vamwe kuti vafanane naiye. mai chisamba vakura havachadi bonde vakuda kuti vechidiki varirambe. havanyari mukadzi mukuru kutaura zvisina basa.

  7. Mubhari August 18, 2013 at 2:29 pm #

    Ko sei vese veorganisation yenyu vasina kuroorwa. Mhuri yegayega ina tete wayo nasekuru wayo ne chechi yawo zvino imi munoda kupinza police mumisha yevanhu munokwana papi

  8. Get Real August 18, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

    I agree where there is abuse, the law needs to take its course, But, I mean a big BUT, this forced sex thing is unreal.

    Any married person consented to providing conjugal rights when required. It is very unrealistic to think that the other spouse will be ready only when you are, some courtship skills should be applied. Guys its normal that wives vanomboramba rambawo but you surely know how to persuade your wife. Use tact and courtesy before ana Sandasi vakuendesa kujere.

    What some of these women rights organisations should be focusing on is how to foster a healthy and balanced marriage relationship than fan tension. Let’s solve the underlying causes than creating worse problems.

    Counsel married couples on how to live together in harmony. Involve vana tete nana sekuru so that the causes ekurambira murume agadzirwe. Dialogue is better than this police reporting. Create men groups and teach them intimacy negotiation tactics and remove this forced intimacy issue.

    Chokwadi ngatibatsiranei, some foreign concepts are harmful to our moral and cultural standing. Kuzosvika pakuti handidi zvekuti izonzi yave force zvinenge zvambodii? Aiwa tsamwisanai henyu pane zvimwe asi ngazvirege kupinza bonde mukati.

    Forced sex in marriage, what an alien idea.

  9. RT BRIG August 18, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    taura hako get real there is a lot of sense here.

    dialogue is the best thing. Ko patakapfimbana paive nemapurisa here nhai vakiti?
    musadaro vakomana

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