Tambourine Army accuses churches of supporting ‘rape of married women’ 

Women’s advocacy group, Tambourine Army says the position of six churches in their presentation before the parliamentary committee reviewing the Sexual Offences Act (SOA), amounts to them condoning rape of married women.

In a news release, Tambourine Army criticised what it said was the churches’ argument that marriage presumes consent as “dangerous”, noting that it ignores Intimate Partner Violence (IPV).

“IPV sometimes cost women their lives and sanity within the ‘sanctity’ of marriage, while perpetrators are shielded by the church and by law,” said the women’s advocacy group, adding that “The church clearly does not understand the difference between rape and sex. Rape is the absence of consent and is located in the use or misuse of power. Sex requires consent. If there is no consent, there is no sex; it is rape, within or external to wedlock.”

See full text of the release below.

The Tambourine Army is alarmed at the position of the six churches that made their presentation before the parliamentary committee reviewing the Sexual Offences Act (SOA). The group in its presentation argued that “marriage presumes consent”, and for that matter a husband cannot rape his wife. The Tambourine Army believes such a position is dangerous and ignores the reality of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). IPV sometimes cost women their lives and sanity within the ‘sanctity’ of marriage, while perpetrators are shielded by the church and by law.

The church clearly does not understand the difference between rape and sex. Rape is the absence of consent and is located in the use or misuse of power. Sex requires consent. If there is no consent, there is no sex; it is rape, within or external to wedlock. In the June 22, 2017 Gleaner report on the presentation made by Philippa Davies representing the church, Davies “admitted that it is not unreasonable to contemplate a husband using force to exact sex”. This, in our view is an acknowledgement by the church that rape is possible within marriage. Yet in the face of that acknowledgement the church is choosing to deny married women access to the Sexual Offences Act, which punishes rape. This is a serious indictment on the group of churches who made their presentation before the Committee and amounts to the church supporting the rape of married women.

The church believes that marriage is an institution which guarantees unconditional and perpetual consent to sex. They believe, for example, that if a woman said ‘I do’ in 1997 she was consenting to sex with her husband two decades later in 2017. Further, the church is demanding that a wife proves that she has “withdrawn” this unconditional and perpetual consent – such as through seeking a protection order – before she can say she was raped by her husband.

We hope the Committee will see the flaws and betrayal of Jamaica’s commitment to the full rights and protection of its citizens in the position articulated by the church, and emphatically resist and reject any attempt by any group or individual to support rape.

The Tambourine Army believes that the current provisions in the law are inadequate and need to be revised in order to fully protect our women from sexual violence, regardless of their relationship (if any) to perpetrators.

In the June 22, 2017 Gleaner report on the presentation made by Philippa Davies representing the church, Davies “admitted that it is not unreasonable to contemplate a husband using force to exact sex”. This, in our view is an acknowledgement by the church that rape is possible within marriage. Yet in the face of that acknowledgement the church is choosing to deny married women access to the Sexual Offences Act, which punishes rape. This is a serious indictment on the group of churches who made their presentation before the Committee and amounts to the church supporting the rape of married women.

The church believes that marriage is an institution which guarantees unconditional and perpetual consent to sex. They believe, for example, that if a woman said ‘I do’ in 1997 she was consenting to sex with her husband two decades later in 2017. Further, the church is demanding that a wife proves that she has “withdrawn” this unconditional and perpetual consent – such as through seeking a protection order – before she can say she was raped by her husband.

We hope the Committee will see the flaws and betrayal of Jamaica’s commitment to the full rights and protection of its citizens in the position articulated by the church, and emphatically resist and reject any attempt by any group or individual to support rape.

The Tambourine Army believes that the current provisions in the law are inadequate and need to be revised in order to fully protect our women from sexual violence, regardless of their relationship (if any) to perpetrators.

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