Victims need to be protected

Dear Editor,

Merriam-Webster defines marriage as, “the relationship that exists between two people who are united as spouses”. Marriage is supposed to be a union of love and, in some cultures, of convenience and class. It should not be regarded as one human being the property of the other person. If that were the case, we simply opt to buy and sell marriages in a Palmdale store. When you are married, one is not assumed ownership over the other person, it is a partnership. It is by this understanding that I write to open the conversation on bettering the laws when it comes to marital rape. There needs to be better education on the union of marriage and exactly what marriage entails.

Firstly, to understand how someone can be sexually assaulted by a partner, we must understand what sexual assault and consent are. The Justice Department of the United States of America defines sexual assault as, “any non-consensual sexual act proscribed by federal, tribal, or state law, including when the victim lacks the capacity to consent”. Consent is defined as, “permission for something to happen or agreement to do something” by dictionary.com. Marriage itself is not an agreement to have sex with that individual at the drop of a hat at the man’s request. It is imperative that I hammer home the point that a person has the right to take away their consent whenever they choose to. Marriage never required the woman to give up consent to her life and free will. The stigma of men not being able to be sexually assaulted also needs to be dealt with because it is simply not true. Assault is not always a huge violent altercation and that is why it is sometimes hard for people to even realize they have been assaulted.

Secondly, I feel the reason a lot of people have a hard time understanding that marital rape could and should be a crime, is because they view marriage itself as having full access to another person. The question of could a husband rape his wife is rooted in misogyny and the belief that a woman is the property of a man. The moment you get out of that mindset, you will see how easy it is to understand that a simple change of title does not grant complete consent one hundred percent of the time.

I urge lawmakers to create laws that will do more to protect against this kind of behavior as well as create ways for victims to be safe after speaking out. It is already hard for sexual assault victims of strangers to come forward. So, one cannot imagine how hard it is for someone to speak up against their own spouse. These victims need to be protected while the matter is being investigated and these matters need to be taken more seriously and should be dealt with with compassion and understanding. Keyword “rape,” marital rape is still rape and should be a crime.

– Mackenson Charles

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