When husbands force sex: Why no means no, even in marriage

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"Minsan pinipilit ako ng asawa ko, kahit ayoko." Find out about one woman's dilemma, and why women should know more about the reality of marital rape

Abuse in marriage takes many forms. It can be overt or it can be subtle, but it always inflicts lasting damage. Sexual violence within marriage may be taboo, but it does not mean it doesn't happen. Just because not a lot of people talk about it, that doesn't mean it does not occur.

The Supreme Court of the Philippines affirms that marital rape is against the law. According to Section 266-A of the Revised Penal Code (RPC), as amended by Republic Act (R.A.) No. 8353 or the Anti-Rape Law of 1997: "Husbands do not have property rights over their wives' bodies. Sexual intercourse, albeit within the realm of marriage, if not consensual, is rape."

Even though the law's take on the issue is black and white, there are still gray areas for many couples.

About 5% of married women between the ages of 15 to 49 experienced forced sex at the hands of their husbands, says the National Demographic and Health Survey.

photo: shutterstock

Consent is crucial, "no means no," even in marriage, so why do many wives feel like their "bodies are their husband's property"?

"Kung mahal mo, ibigay mo. Nasa culture natin 'yan (If you love them, give it to them. That's in our culture)," Prescilla Tulipat of the University of the Philippines' Gender Office said in a Rappler feature, which cited a landmark case which shed light on the importance of consent between couples, whether they are dating or already married.

Many wives still believe it is their obligation to "fulfill their partner's needs" and that a husband is well within his rights to demand sex, just like some of the netizens who responded to a question on the Q&A app and community ParentTown.

screenshot: ParentTown

"Normal ba sa lalaki na mag-ask lagi for sex? Halos araw-araw ganyan 'yung partner ko pero tinatanggihan ko madalas kasi puyat at pagod ako. Nakakainis lang na hindi siya sensitive sa ganyan tapos minsan pinipilit niya talaga kahit ayoko. Ayoko din kasi mabuntis agad. 3 months pa lang si baby," wrote the concerned new mom.

Based on the responses, many focused on warning her to give in so her husband doesn't go looking for another woman. Though concerning in itself, a more important issue was overlooked: that her husband would sometimes force her to have sex.

"Kailangan ng asawa mo yan kaysa naman sa iba nya pa ito hanapin..."

"Ang sabi nga ng tita ko pag nag-aya ang asawa mo dapat lagi ka go, go, go kasi magkakaroon siya ng dahilan para hanapin sa iba," cautioned another anonymous user.

Another anonymous user answered her query, saying that it is normal for men to ask for sex every day. "Kasi kailangan ng asawa mo yan kaysa naman sa iba nya pa ito hanapin," the netizen warned, "Mas mahirap pag ganoon kung hindi ka naman puwede, puwede mo naman sya kausapin in a nice way, kung mahal ka niya maiintindihan niya rin yon."

"Generally, yes," echoed one ParentTown mom. "It's still a good thing na sayo sya lumalapit for his physical needs. If pagod ka or hindi kaya, you can let him know and pag-usapan nyo ng maayos para hindi naman sya ma offend. Most guys get offended if they are declined when it comes to sex. Let him feel secured pa din and try to explain na pagod ka and you can do it at another time pag hindi ka ganoon kapagod."

What do you think of this important issue, moms and dads? Let us know in the comments below.

READ: “My husband is a sex addict and I only just found out!”

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Marriage Marital Issues Family Life