In a defining case, a Zimbabwean man from Binga will serve as an example to the rest of the local make population after he was sentenced to 16 years in prison for raping his own wife.
The rapist husband, whose name has been withdrawn to protect his wife’s identity, was found guilty of having forced himself on his pregnant wife twice. Hwange regional magistrate Collet Ncube determined that the husband had threated to assault his wife with a log before forcing himself on her twice. The magistrate threw the book at the husband and sentenced him to 16 years in prison for these egregious violations. Two years were suspended on condition of good behaviour.
During the trial, the husband mounted a spirited defence and accused his in-laws of fabricating the charges against him because they wanted him to separate from their daughter. He argued that sex was consensual throughout. In his defence, he is quoted by the Sunday News as saying,
"Your worship, the complainant is my wife with whom I have a child with and in all the alleged occasions the sex was consensual. The rape allegations were fabricated by the complainant after being influenced by her parents who no longer want me as their son-in-law."
However, the Magistrate would have none of this and said that the only fitting punishment, in this case, was a prison sentence. In his ruling, the Magistrate said,
Your conduct is reprehensible. It does not make a difference. You repeatedly engaged in the sexual activity against her will. You were unconcerned that she was pregnant, you force-marched her to your place using threats of violence as you were armed with a switch and log. Your moral blameworthiness is high. The fact that the complainant cried was an indication that she was traumatised. Imprisonment, in this case, is inescapable.
According to the state, the victim had returned to her parents’ home after marital misunderstandings between the two. However, when she was coming from the Siabuwa Clinic with her sister, the husband waylaid her near his home. After she declined to return home with him, he picked up a log and a switch and threatened to beat her up unless she complied. He then force marched her to his home where he raped her twice.
The case has resulted in mixed emotions across the country with some groups applauding the court for upholding women’s rights, in particular, the right to consent to having sexual intercourse. However, some other groups seem alarmed with the ruling and attacked the courts for the ruling. They argued that a spouse cannot deny sex to their partner and even used biblical verses to support their argument. One such verse reads,
Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. 1Corinthians 7:3-4
However, this argument was shot down by others who argued that religious convictions are not universal and as such should not be used as a defence when there is a law which explicit. Others also attacked the court’s ruling supposedly from a cultural perspective saying that women should not deny their husbands sex because the men paid lobola for them. Again, this view was vigorously attacked with some saying that lobola did not translate to ownership over women’s bodies.