New law on family violence on the way in Bahrain
Manama, March 10, 2014
A new law on family violence is expected to ignore recommendations from Bahrain's top legal authority, which suggested spousal rape should not be illegal.
The GDN reported last Tuesday that the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) had suggested husbands who forced their wives to have sex should not be prosecuted, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
It also suggested that husbands and guardians who "reasonably" disciplined their wives and daughters should be above the law.
However, the head of the Shura Council committee responsible for the bill told the GDN that both would be ignored.
"The committee has already refused those recommendations from the council," Shura Council woman and child committee chairwoman Rabab Al Arrayedh told the GDN.
"The SJC can make recommendations, but they are not legislators.
"No-one has the right, husband or wife, to force the other to have sex.
"Of course they have a right to sexual relations with each other, but they cannot use force.
"If the wife feels she is being abused then she can go to court and ask for a divorce."
The SJC made the recommendations to ensure new legislation on domestic disputes does not contradict Sharia (Islamic) principles.
However, Batelco Care Centre for Family Violence Cases head Dr Sharifa Swar said that rape could never be condoned - even within marriage.
"Rape is rape, regardless of who the victim is," she said, adding that the "consequences cause damage beyond repair".
However, she said there was still a lack of understanding in this region about the rights of women in abusive relationships.
"The majority of the public continue to hold beliefs about wife rape, neglecting the impact on the victim," she said.
"They stereotype and misunderstand her when she reports it, demanding her legal rights.
"The last thing we want is for a rapist husband to use the law as a shield against being charged with rape - meaning the wife would be victimised twice.
"Society, culture and judges criticise women for reporting it and condemn them for revealing such huge pain, simply because of the cultural belief that what happens between a husband and wife in the bedroom is a private matter."
Dr Swar also said studies showed that husbands who raped their wives had similar motivations and characteristics as men who raped strangers.
"It (spousal rape) is morally not accepted and is forbidden by Islam as wrong," she said.
"The husband is supposed to know his wife fully, know her feelings, understand her, ask why, learn from his mistakes, accept criticism, forget his man's ego and develop his skills in satisfying his lady.
"If his wife refuses to have sex with him, this means there is a reason that should be addressed."
The expert stated that the two main reasons for such abuse were a lack of love and premature ejaculation.
She said some men raped their wives, married a second wife or had an affair instead of seeking the help they needed.
"One of the clients we received at the Batelco Care Centre for Domestic Violence Cases told us himself that he got married three times and his three ex-wives all filed for divorce because of his mistreatment of them," she said.
"He was married at separate times and he would lock his door and rape his wife.
"He told me he never received any treatment regarding that and he thought he was just demanding his rights as a husband.
"I asked him if he knew what his wife's rights were, but he didn't know that a woman was supposed to enjoy lovemaking just the way he would.
"In his words, 'no intimacy'."
She added that pre-marital workshops should be organised to help new couples understand each other's role in a marriage. - TradeArabia News Service