31 October 2016 Last updated at: 2:19 PM
Malawian women not reporting marital rape: fear losing men to prostitutes
Dust refuses to settle on controversy surrounding marital rape as it has been established that women who dare to report their husbands on the offence relating to marital rape risk losing their men to other women.
This is said to be discouraging most women from reporting the issue to law enforcement agencies and they are preferring to suffer in silence to protect their marriages.
Speaking during a women caucus which was organized by an umbrella body under the banner ‘Men Against Violence’ in Nkhatabay on Friday, women in the area conceded how difficult it becomes to report their husbands to Police on the issue.
One of the women, Mercy Nyirenda, revealed that her husband always challenges her that should she ever deny him sex, he will marry another woman.
“This forces me to comply with his demands even if I’m not in the mood for sex. It’s very difficult to deny making love to him because he always argues that marriage means sex every day,” she added her voice during the caucus.
She seemed to be one of the many women who are still suffering from the injustice as other women who patronised the meeting shared the same concern. The trend likely compromises the objectives of Southern Africa Women Organization, an umbrella body which heavily championed the criminalization of marital rape in Africa. As if that might not be enough, Seodi White who chairs Women in Law in Southern Africa-Malawi chapter is also worried with the trend. “
According to investigations, about 75 percent of women in Malawi are facing the injustice, and yet they suffer in silence to save their marriages and due to other cultural reasons,” she said. White added that though the trend might live under the comfort of the preceding reasons, forced sex remains very dangerous to women.
“A woman might face complications during delivery, a situation which might even risk her life,” added White.
However, a member of the faith community says it is not right for a woman to refuse to have sex with her husband. Evangelist Mlaliki John of Nkhatabay said the bible only discourages premarital sex but man may enjoy his spouse anytime.
“That is the meaning of one body. Why should a woman deny her husband sex while in marriage? That’s unacceptable,” he said. Malawi criminalised marital rape last year inside the Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act which also discouraged child marriages by raising the minimum age of marriage from 16 to 18.
Meanwhile, director for ‘Men Against Violence’ Luke Shawa has bemoaned shyness and fear among women to report their husbands on marital rape saying they are fueling the infringement of their own rights.
He said marital rape is an equal gender based violence thus victims ought to report to relevant authorities for assistance.
“If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem thus I urge you women to open your eyes and start reporting the injustices,” he said.