Sexual assault within marriage is a harrowing reality for many women across South Asia. This blog delves into the deeply entrenched issue, examining its roots in entitlement, the pervasive nature of sexual abuse, and its profound impact on victims. Through education and awareness, there is hope for change and healing for those affected.

When a Husband Feels Entitled to a Wife’s Body

In many South Asian societies, cultural norms and marital expectations often foster a sense of entitlement among husbands over their wives’ bodies. This mindset is deeply ingrained and perpetuated by traditional views on marriage and gender roles, where a wife’s autonomy over her own body is overlooked, leading to instances of sexual assault that are rationalized as marital rights.

A Personal Story

Sunita, a 28-year-old from a mid-sized town in India, entered an arranged marriage with high hopes and dreams for her future. However, soon after her wedding, she found herself trapped in a cycle of abuse. Her husband, citing his rights as her spouse, forced himself on her regularly without her consent. Sunita’s attempts to confide in her family were met with dismissals, as they advised her to be more accommodating and fulfill her “marital duties.” Feeling isolated and without support, Sunita endured in silence, believing her experience to be a normal aspect of marriage. Isolation and societal pressures compelled her to stay silent. Her story is a stark reminder of the personal struggles faced by countless women in similar predicaments.

Sexual Abuse is More Common than We’d Like to Admit

Despite the reluctance to discuss sexual assault within marriage, it is a widespread issue. Many victims suffer in silence due to fear of stigma, disbelief, or repercussions from their families and communities. The lack of open discussions and awareness contributes to the normalization of this abuse, making it challenging to combat

Examples of Sexual Abuse in Marriage

Sexual abuse in marriage encompasses a range of coercive, forceful, or manipulative behaviors that violate the victim’s integrity and consent. It includes but is not limited to, marital rape, forced pregnancy, and any form of sexual violence that leaves the victim feeling powerless and degraded. These actions not only violate a person’s autonomy but also inflict deep psychological scars.

Why Does My Husband Sexually Abuse Me?

The reasons behind sexual abuse in marriage are complex and multifaceted. They can include a desire for power and control, deep-seated misogynistic attitudes, or the abuser’s own history of experiencing or witnessing abuse. Understanding these underlying causes is essential for addressing and preventing abuse.

The Impact of Sexual Abuse in Marriage

The impact of sexual abuse in a marriage is devastating, affecting victims physically, emotionally, and psychologically. It can lead to chronic health problems, mental health issues like depression and anxiety, and a profound sense of isolation. The trauma of sexual abuse also extends to children in the family, affecting their wellbeing and development.

The Plight of Children

Children within households where sexual assault occurs are often silent sufferers. Witnessing abuse can lead to long-term psychological trauma and perpetuate cycles of violence. Protecting children involves creating safe spaces for them to express their fears and access emotional support.

Preventive Strategies

Preventing sexual assault within marriage requires a multifaceted approach.

  • Education and Awareness: Cultivating an understanding of consent and respectful relationships from an early age is vital.
  • Legal Reform: Advocating for laws that recognize and punish marital sexual assault.
  • Support System: Establishing robust support networks, including counseling services and shelters, for survivors.

Moving Towards Change

Combating sexual assault in South Asian marriages requires a collective effort to challenge and change harmful societal norms. It involves legal reform, education on consent and gender equality, and support for victims through counseling and safe spaces. Stories like Ayesha’s underscore the urgent need for action and awareness to protect and empower women, fostering environments where respect and consent are non-negotiable