Are husbands allowed to rape in Bangladesh: Social and legal aspects
Presentation at American Public Health Association 131st Annual Meeting & Exposition, 17-18 November
Rahman,Laila; Bhuiya,Ismat; Rob,Ubaidur
Publication date: 2003
According to police report on an average 37 women and children were raped per day in 2001 while the definition of rape in penal code excluded rape by husbands of wives having age of 13 and above. Interestingly, Women and Child Repression Act 2000, males will be punished for rape if their wives are less than 14. Again 18 is the approved age for marriage for girls. Therefore, there are clear conflicts and duality in law that paves the way for girls to get raped by their husbands. In view of above and on the basis of findings from a cross-sectional study conducted among 3102 adolescents in Bangladesh, this paper presents girls' exposure to rape and sexual assault by their husbands. In order to explore the underlying factors an in-depth study was also carried out with 31 adolescents. According to survey findings, 4% girls (n=16) among sexually exposed adolescent girls (n=437) reported sexual assault. 12 girls are married and the rest 4 are unmarried. Thus only 3% married girls (n=437) experienced sexual coercion from their husbands who are much older than themselves - this contradicts the common belief that it is natural for husbands to rape their wives during first intercourse. Five married girls faced sexual coercions at the age between 13-14. None of the raped girls used anything to prevent pregnancy or infection. Therefore this paper calls for a need to change both the social attitude and existing laws in order to prohibit husbands' right to rape their spouse.