Marital rape

Other Names:
Undesired sexual obligations within marriage
Forced sexual intercourse between spouses
Obligatory sex between husband and wife

Rape within marriage is not always recognized as a problem; in fact, it is not always recognized as being possible. Many legal systems exclude the wife of the offender as a victim of rape, since marriage by definition includes sexual relationships. When a man married a women, he received the right to have sexual intercourse with her under any conditions he chose. If he was not married and raped a women, he had only to marry her afterwards to make adequate reparation in society's eyes. The crime of rape was seen as a crime of honour: only the victim's honour was damaged, and that could be restored by marriage.

Forced sexual relations between spouses have alarming implications, however. Many women continue to live in a brutalized relationship because of their uncertain economic future should they leave their husbands, or due to a fear of the negative attitude commonly held about a woman whose partnership has disintegrated. Although it is usually both partners who contribute to the failure of a relationship, it is most often the man who uses physical aggression and thus turns a tense or broken relationship into a violent one.


According to a London survey one woman in seven is raped in marriage.

Narrower Problems:
Acquaintance rape
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 5: Gender EqualityGOAL 10: Reduced Inequality
Problem Type:
G: Very specific problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST