When I first started writing about marital rape back in 2009 I couldn’t have anticipated that it would become one of the key issues to bring people to this blog. But it is, and so I’ve got into a bit of a cycle now. The more I post about marital rape for instance the more likely it is that this blog becomes a landing place for people searching for information about it, and the more people who land here having searched for information about marital rape, the more I get to see the search terms people are using for it, and the more I get to see of those the more likely I am to write about the subject again, and on and on it goes.

My previous posts on this issue include:

“Your husband has a right to expect regular sex”

More on husbands and their ‘entitlement’ to sex

Rape and marriage

Rape in marriage

Which bring me to this, the latest instalment in a series I’m tempted to subtitle “when the fuck are people going to understand that rape is rape is rape no matter what (if any) relationship, marital or otherwise, the perpetrator and victim/survivor have with each other.

Once again I’ve gone through the list of search terms that have brought people to this blog in the last 12 months and selected all those that relate to ‘coerced sex’ (rape), ‘forced sex’ (rape), ‘sex while sleeping’ (rape), and rape, either within marriage or some other ‘intimate partner relationship’.

You can see the full list here – Full List of Search Terms

This time round though I’m taking a slightly different, more gendered approach, because while I was going through the list of search terms I noticed that while in most cases it’s impossible to work out who’s actually seeking the information – perpetrators, survivors, academics, people who may just be interested in the subject – in plenty of other cases it’s pretty clear who’s been asking Google for help. So I’ve broken some of the list down further into ‘his‘ search terms and ‘hers‘.

And yes, before I get pulled up on it, I do realise that with equal marriage now being a thing, just because someone has typed ‘my husband did x‘ into a search engine does not automatically mean it was a wife or indeed a woman doing the typing. Statistically speaking though the chances are it was, and so that’s what I’m going with.

First off then here’s ‘his‘ list of search terms relating to marital rape:

  • when is it ok to expect sex with my wife
  • cant i demand sex from my wife
  • should i force wife to have sex
  • should i forced my wife to have sex
  • how to force my wife to have sex
  • i forced myself on my wife
  • i forced my wife to have sex
  • i m horny but my wife is not interested in sex …. so i use to have sex forcefully
  • if i want sex with my wife i should be able to just take it as and when i please even if she gets hurt or says no, it’s my right!
  • how to rape my wife
  • i want to rape my wife
  • i rape my wife all the time

Notice the absence of any sense of remorse in those….

And now here’s ‘her‘ list:

  • my husband is too sexually demanding
  • my husband hassles me for sex
  • husband pressured me sexually
  • husband pesters me for sex
  • husband pesters me about sex
  • my husband pressures me to have sex
  • why does my husband feel entitled to demand sex
  • my husband has sex with me when i am sleeping
  • my husband raped me
  • husband raped me
  • my husband expects sex
  • my husband sexually assaulted me after i took a sleeping pill
  • having sex with husband feels like rape
  • my husband has sex with me while i sleep
  • when my husband tries to have sex with me i feel violated
  • husband has sex with me while i am sleeping
  • my husband rapes me
  • does my husband have the right to have sex with me whenever he wants
  • why does my husband beat and rape me?
  • husband had sex with me while i sleep
  • my husband penetrates me when i am asleep
  • my husband demands sex all the time
  • husband expects sex when i dont want it
  • husband pressures me into sex
  • my husband penetrates me while i sleep
  • my husband said he had marital rites and raped me
  • husband hit me then raped me
  • should i feel violated when my boyfriend has sex with me while i’m sleeping
  • my husband makes me have sex even when i say no
  • my husband forces me to have sex
  • husband has sex while im sleeping

Now obviously I have no way of knowing who these women are, what countries they’re from, or which laws they’re living under, but according to my blog’s statistics the majority of the readership here is from the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and India: marital rape is a criminal offence in all of those countries bar one, and that’s India. Marital rape is however a civil offence in India, and has been since 2006 when the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 came into force.

Looking at the search terms again though, it’s clearly not that important to those seeking information here if marital rape is lawful or not: none of ‘her’ searches ask the question “has my husband broken the law?” or “should I have my husband arrested for rape?” And that lack of interest in a criminal justice response is reflected in the reporting statistics for rape and other forms of sexual violence. In the UK for example only 15% of those who experience sexual violence choose to report to the police, and with the prevalence of rape culture throughout the world there’s no reason to assume that percentage will be any higher anywhere else.

No, what’s important to those seeking information about marital rape is not the legal position on it, it’s confirmation that what’s been happening is rape, it is abuse, it is sexual violence, and that they’re not alone in either experiencing it or in feeling the way they do about it.

The legal position is way down the list for both parties in all this: but even if it is lawful in some countries, for those men from those places where it’s not recognised as a crime, where a woman is assumed to ‘belong’ to her husband to do with as he wishes, to those men who have ended up here after googling questions like “Can I/ How do I/Am I entitled” to rape my wife?” how about thinking more along the lines of “Should I/Is it right to/what the fuck sort of person would it make me if Iraped my wife? And then don’t. For her sake and for the sake of whatever’s left of your own humanity, just don’t do it.

The Rape Crisis England and Wales National Freephone Helpline is open from 12-2.30pm & 7-9.30pm every day of the year: you can call them on 0808 802 9999

The Rape Crisis Scotland Helpline is open everyday 6pm to midnight on 08088 01 03 02

For those in the US the National Sexual Assault Hotline is 800-656-HOPE(4673)

For those in Canada there’s a list of Rape Crisis centres here

The Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia 24/7 telephone and crisis counselling no is 1800 737 732

There’s a list here of women’s organisations in India, including the Gulabi Gang, but if anyone knows any specific support organisations for survivors of rape and sexual violence in India please feel free to post links in the comments.

With thanks to @God_loves_women on Twitter – here’s an International Directory of Domestic Violence Agencies.