Amendments will be introduced to the Penal Code shortly to make marital rape a crime and a punishable offence and cabinet approval has been granted to a proposal made in this respect by Justice and Foreign Employment Minister Talatha Atukorale.
Marital rape is the act of sexual intercourse with one's wife without her consent. It is a form of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Although, historically, sexual intercourse within marriage was regarded as a right of the husband, engaging in the act without the spouse's consent is now widely recognized by law and society as wrong and as a crime, a senior source of the Justice Ministry said.
“It is recognized all over the world that sexual intercourse even with the legal wife without her consent is a crime. Our objective is to give the opportunity to a woman to take legal action against her own husband who has raped her. Sri Lanka’s Penal Code does not recognize this offence as a punishable offence now thought it is also a domestic violence,” she added.
She pointed out that women in Sri Lanka in many instances are reluctant to lodge a complaint with the Police against her husband though she becomes a victim of domestic violence and rape based on religious, cultural, social and family values. But some legal measures are required to arrest this negative trend which is on the rise, she stressed.
She also said making marital rape a crime is also a condition laid by the EU to withdraw the ban of the GSP+ on Sri Lanka.
To amend the clause 362 A of the Penal Code for the purpose has been referred by the cabinet to the Legal Draftsman and the law will be in place in the first half of 2018, she said. (Sandun A Jayasekera)