MARITAL RAPE, IS IT A CRIME? | Olajide Abiodun Esq.


I acknowledge the fact that marital rape does occur, I do not support its criminalization.

So we need to chart a middle course by advocating for the actual protection of women’s dignity through the invocation of international and national human rights instruments and also the recognition of the sexual and reproductive rights of women. 

I also advocate for the establishment of courts of family division conferred with the necessary (civil rather than criminal) jurisdictions to cover any complaint of domestic violence, the definition of which may include forceful sexual intercourse with a wife by the husband.

Marital rape is the husband’s sexual intercourse with his wife with the knowledge that she does not consent. It is also called spousal rape.

The pertinent and recurring question is whether a husband can rape his lawful wife? In Nigeria as well in many common law countries of the world, this question cannot be answered in the affirmative because rape (forceful sexual intercourse) in matrimony is not seen as a crime.

Conclusively, it is my suggestion that traditional societies and male chauvinists must be enlightened appropriately in order to wean them off their age-long prejudice, stereotype, and biases against women. Women should be seen and recognised as companions in family settings whose rights and dignity must be respected and protected from abuse as the society cannot pretend to be unaware of various cases and incidents of women brutality by their husbands. In conclusion, the law is dynamic and an agent of change in the society and though we still maintain that the act of a husband forcing his wife to have sex should not be criminalised, I advise that Nigeria should join the league of progressive nations by specifically making a law on the subject matter.

Such law should be administered by courts of family division. With the proposed law in existence alongside the human rights provisions as contained in various legal instruments, it is hopeful that women’s sexual freedom and reproductive justice would be better guaranteed. Thus a woman either in her matrimonial home or outside should have the right to decide whether, when, and how long to permit her body to be shared with another person, even her husband.


Olajide Abiodun Esq.

(Master of the Rolls)

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