In a previous article, we discussed whether a man can rape his wife in the Barbadian context in light of the Sexual Offences Act CAP 154 (‘the Act’) of the Laws of Barbados. Previously, the Act provided that the husband was only guilty of the offence of rape on his wife where there was in existence in relation to them a decree nisi of divorce; a separation order within the meaning of Section 2 of the Family Law Act; a separation agreement; or an order for the husband not to molest his wife or have sexual intercourse with her.
However, as recently as last night, the Senate of Barbados passed legislation creating the offence of marital rape. The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act, 2016 is an Act amending the Sexual Offences Act CAP 154 to provide for the circumstances under which the offence of rape is committed by a husband against his wife. Consequently, it removes the restrictive circumstances under which the husband may commit the offence of rape on his wife.
Section 3 (4) of the Act now reads “A husband commits the offence of rape where he has sexual intercourse with his wife without her consent by force or fear, where he knows that she does not consent to the intercourse or is reckless as to whether she consents to the intercourse.”
Therefore, the Barbadian legislation now provides for the offence of marital rape, specifically as it relates to the husband committing the offence against his wife. This will be a welcomed change for some who believe that marriage should not erase the possibility of one partner raping the other. There are some others however who will be disturbed by this amendment since they are very devoted to traditional views. In my view, this new amendment should be embraced as it is definitely a step forward in the right direction.