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Marital rape removed from country’s laws

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MARITAL rape is no longer acceptable under Solomon Islands laws, the High Court recently ruled in a landmark decision.

The previous law stated that men were given an implied and irrevocable consent to sexual intercourse through the contract of marriage and were allowed to obtain sex by force.

This meant that it was permissible under law for husbands to rape their wives.

But the court has now overturned the law and declared that the notion that wives were subservient to the husband “must be confined to the graves”, a major achievement for gender equality in the justice system and for Solomon Islander women.

The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions submitted the case to the High Court, arguing that the law was dehumanising, unacceptable and contrary to the country’s conversation on ending gender- based violence and its commitment to the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Violence Against Women which was ratified by the Solomon Island Government in May 2002.

This decision has been welcomed by Solomon Islands women leaders and gender advocates as women continue to push for gender equality and the elimination of violence against women and children.

From a recent Family Health survey, the data showed that Solomon Islands experiences one of the highest rates of gender-based violence worldwide with an estimated 64% of women experiencing sexual or physical violence from an intimate partner.

The DPP office has been assisted by RAMSI’s law and justice programme which is managed by AusAID and aims to strengthen the Solomon Islands justice system to ensure all Solomon Islanders, regardless of their background or location, have access to a fair and just legal system.

By Trixie Carter