Latest update March 25th, 2023 12:57 AM
Nov 14, 2008 News
…marriage and other like relationships will no longer be defence to rape – Manickchand
By Gary Eleazar
For hundreds of years the courts that inherit the Roman Dutch Law could not convict a man for raping his legally married wife given that it was embedded in English law for over 150 years (that Guyana adopted) that a wife was “mere chattel”, the property of the husband, and that consent to sex at any time was taken to flow from the fact that they were married.
No Guyanese court has ruled on this point since Independence, so this is still the law in Guyana.
Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Priya Manickchand, is currently seeking to change this when the completed ‘Sexual Offences Bill’ is tabled in the National Assembly.
The Bill is currently in its draft stage but according to Minister Manickchand she is optimistic that everything could be finalised allowing the Bill to be tabled by year end.
The Minister, in an invited comment, yesterday, told this newspaper that the exemption has since been completely abolished in more than 50 countries, including England, India, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela and Canada, and it is soon to be abolished in South Africa.
When the House of Lords abolished the exemption in England, in the case of RvR, Lord Keith had said, “Marriage is in modern times regarded as a partnership of equals, and no longer one in which the wife must be the subservient chattel of the husband.”
He added that the previous law (that is still in use here in Guyana) says that by marriage a wife gives her irrevocable consent to sexual intercourse with her husband under all circumstances and irrespective of her state of health or how she happens to be feeling at the time.
“In modern times any reasonable person must regard that conception as quite unacceptable…On grounds of principle there is now no justification for the marital exemption of rape,” said Keith.
According to Manickchand, marital rape is not about sex; rather it is violence intended to degrade and humiliate the victim.
She added that marital rape often includes severe physical violence and threats and even use of weapons, and studies have shown that men who rape their wives are more likely to severely injure their wives and escalate to eventually murdering them.
As such, embedded in the draft of the Sexual Offences Bill there is a provision stating that a marital or other relationship, previous or existing, is no defence to a sexual offence.
“This reform also makes clear that proposing marriage to a victim after raping her in no way reduces the crime committed.”
The reform seeks to match and is consistent with other provisions already extant in Guyana’s laws including in (the Supreme Law of the land), the Constitution.
The Constitution of Guyana currently provides for equality of the sexes and independence by all and recognizes the right of all to live a life free of violence, degradation.
Manickchand also pointed to the fact that the Domestic Violence Act passed in 1996, almost 12 years ago, already recognises that a woman is not the property of her husband/partner and does not have to endure physical, sexual, emotional, psychological or any other form of abuse.
“This Act (the Domestic Violence Act) provides remedies against said abuses including protection and occupation orders which means that a man can be evicted from his own house if found guilty, in order to protect the victim.”
Another aspect of the Law that will be addressed is restitution of conjugal rights which is considered legal rape by the Minister as well as several other legal luminaries.
Restitution of conjugal rights in layman term means that for a man or woman to withhold sex from the partner then he or she could approach the courts and have the presiding Judge possibly order the spouse to have sex with the other.
They are being paid while we are being played…your pain is their gain!
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