No Rape in Marriage Under Bahamian Law

​A judge in the Bahamas has ruled that there’s no such thing as marital rape under the law that governs the country.

Justice Denise Lewis-Johnson ruled on Wednesday that “there is no rape in marriage” saying however that a husband should not force his wife to have sex with him against her will. She described it as “cruel”.

She was dealing with a case where she granted divorce to a woman who filed for separation after she claimed she was raped for a long time by her husband during their marriage.

The woman who has been married to her husband for 15 years said apart from being raped, she was being treated horribly by her spouse.

She said she was subjected to emotional and mental abuse throughout the marriage saying that she “felt like a rape victim during the ordeal of sexual intercourse with the respondent”.

The unidentified woman claimed that she and her husband had sex one time in 2021 saying it felt like “an out-of-body experience”.

The woman told the Bahamian court that sexual intercourse with her marital partner had become like a “chore and lacked intimacy and that during the marriage, her husband would come home, lubricate himself, take his pleasure and leave”.

She said it was customary that her husband would come home, and ask for sex and if she decided against it, he would “forcefully penetrate her”, and when he was “satisfied, he would roll over, watch television, use his computer and go to sleep”.

This behavior according to the woman affected and damaged her physical, emotional, and mental health.

Meanwhile, her husband who the court also did not identify, said it was he who was treated terribly and cruelly by his wife.

Out of respect for his wife, he refrained from having sex until marriage “but during the union, my sexual needs were not being met due to my wife’s job obligations”. The man said his wife must have sex with her husband.
He told the court that in 2021 the woman he married stopped having sex with him, ending her “sexual obligation”.

Throughout the marriage, he said the woman never told him she felt like she was being violated or feeling mentally abused. She said she refused to attend counseling.

In granting the divorce, the judge said the issue raised by the parties of non-consensual and forced intercourse along with the word “rape required the court to consider the term in the context of Bahamian marriage laws”.

She said that while the court accepts that rape is a “most heinous act of cruelty”, there is “no rape in marriage” under a strict reading of Bahamian law.