Human rights of women and the phenomenon of marital rape in Ethiopia: a critical analysis

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Woldu, Tsion Hagos
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Global Campus
Violence against women (VAW) continues to be one of the major human rights violations in Ethiopia. Marital rape, one manifestation of VAW, is not regarded as a crime under the Ethiopian criminal code. The criminal code’s provision against rape defines the crime as a non-consensual sex committed outside of wedlock, thereby exempting rape within marriage from the scope of criminal acts. However, the prevalence of marital rape in the country has been affirmed through various studies. This paper presents how the patriarchal social structure of the country and women’s economic disempowerment reinforce marital rape in Ethiopia and how the exemption of the act from the Ethiopian Criminal Code exacerbates the matter. It attempts to demonstrate that while criminalising marital rape is a crucial step in battling VAW in Ethiopia, it will not have a full effect unless deeply rooted patriarchal norms are dismantled and a more enabling economic environment is made available to women.
HRDA - Master’s Programme in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa, University of Pretoria.
Second semester University: University of Lagos
Global Campus - Africa
rape, violence against women, economic development, patriarchy