My friend’s sister is having a problem with her husband. She alleges that her husband sometimes forces her to have sex with her even if she does not feel like doing it. She said she is thinking of filing a case against her husband for marital rape. Is this possible considering that they are married in the first place? Isn’t having sex suppose to be part of their married relationship? I hope you can advise us if she can indeed file a case against her husband for marital rape. Thank you!
While married couples are expected to engage in sexual intercourse for purposes of procreation and for expression of marital intimacy, forced sexual conduct cannot be legally justified even between married couples. Rape should never be tolerated in the guise of marital relations.
In the case of People vs. Jumawan, the Supreme Court thoroughly discussed the issue of marital rape wherein it affirmed the conviction of a husband for marital rape and elaborated the dynamics of sexual relations between married couples. According to the Supreme Court:
“A woman is no longer the chattel-antiquated practice labeled her to be. A husband who has sexual intercourse with his wife is not merely using a property, he is fulfilling a marital consortium with a fellow human being with dignity equal to that he accords himself. He cannot be permitted to violate this dignity by coercing her to engage in a sexual act without her full and free consent [People vs. Jumawan, GR 187495, 21 April 2014].”
The cited jurisprudence likewise emphasizes that the legal obligation of the husband and wife to live together and observe mutual love, as provided under the Family Code of the Philippines, sanctions sexual intimacy as expression of love which should be mutual and not unilaterally extracted by force or coercion. (Ibid.) With this in mind, the Supreme Court points out that:
“Husbands are once again reminded that marriage is not a license to forcibly rape their wives. A husband does not own his wife’s body by reason of marriage. By marrying, she does not divest herself of the human right to an exclusive autonomy over her own body and thus, she can lawfully opt to give or withhold her consent to marital coitus. A husband aggrieved by his wife’s unremitting refusal to engage in sexual intercourse cannot resort to felonious force or coercion to make her yield. xxx” (Ibid.)
Citing the deliberations of Congress in the creation on the law on rape, the Supreme Court recognizes the lawmakers intended to include and penalize marital rape under the definition of rape. (Ibid.) As such, forced sex between married couples is still rape and cannot be excused under the guise of marriage.
Consequently, any married individual who is forced by his or her marital partner to copulate and engage in sexual acts without his or her consent may file a criminal complaint for rape against the coercing partner. This legal recourse is acknowledged by the aforementioned jurisprudence when it ruled that when sexual intimacy in marriage is “egoistically utilized to despoil marital union in order to advance a felonious urge for coitus by force, violence or intimidation, the Court will step in to protect its lofty purpose, vindicate justice and protect our laws and State policies”(Ibid).
Therefore, your friend’s sister should not tolerate her husband’s abusive action of forcing her to have sexual intercourse with him without her consent. You must inform her that she may file a criminal complaint against her husband for rape, notwithstanding the fact that they are a married couple.
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org