Marital rape law covered in Malawi controversial Marriage Bill

A bill that Malawi Parliament passed banning child marriage, raising the minimum age to 18  and updated the laws on marriage and divorce, included making rape within marriage explicitly illegal.

Kaliati:t Where were they when we were passing the bill?

Kaliati:t Where were they when we were passing the bill?

One of the more controversial elements of the bill refers to marital rape.

While confirming conjugal rights in marriage, the law states that a spouse may refuse to have sex “on reasonable grounds”.

Reads the bill: “A spouse has the right to a sexual relationship with the other, except on reasonable grounds such as poor health; if she is recovering after giving birth; if he/she is recovering after surgery; if he/she has reasonable fear that engaging in sexual intercourse is likely to cause physical or psychological harm to either spouse; or if there is need to reasonably respect custom.”

Critics argue that the current penal code, which makes a man guilty of rape if he ‘unlawfully had carnal knowledge of a woman without consent’, implies that it is possible to have lawful sex without consent.

“This is interpreted by many to mean when the parties are married,” a person commenting on Nyasa Times article which posted the bill observed.

The bills also state that a husband will commit the offence of rape “if he is on separation from her wife and has sexual intercourse with her without her consent.”

It is believed that there is widespread rape within marriage in Malawi but reporting it is widely regarded as taboo.

Nyasa Times understands that “marital rape” is a major cause of health problems among married women, including women who have died as a result of coerced sex soon after giving birth.

Women activists argue that there must be an agreement on sexual activity.

Although sometimes withholding sex is used a weapon, especially by women against men, activist says “this can be sorted out through communication and understanding.”

MCP spokeswoman Jessie Kabwila who helped push for the new legislation said the passing of the law was “great for Malawi” particularly banning child brides, saying the law would help boost development in one of the world’s poorest countries.

But the chairperson of the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament, Peter Chakwantha, has accused the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government of bulldozing parliament in passing the Marriage Divorce and Family Relation Bill.

He said government flouted the newly adopted standing orders which, among others, stipulate that a bill passes through his committee before proceeding for debate in National Assembly.

“The way the bill was presented and the manner in which debate on it was moderated leaves some of us feeling short changed,” said Chakwantha, as quoted in the local press.

Minister of Gender, Patricia Kaliati, who tabled the bill, dismissed the claims.

“Who didn’t follow the procedures? Which legal affairs? In fact where were they when we were passing the bill? The members should not point fingers at government on the issue because they were also part and parcel of it,” retorted Kaliati.

The enactment of the Bill will repeal several laws related to marriage, divorce and maintenance “that are scattered across several Acts.”

It is expected to soon be signed into law by President Peter Mutharika.

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36 thoughts on “Marital rape law covered in Malawi controversial Marriage Bill”

  1. john says:

    Ndiye apa tsikana asakwatiwe atasiya school panjira koma adikire atakwanitsa zaka 18 ,lero atsikana ambiri akutha nsinkhu ali ndi zaka 12 ,basi azingokhala pankhomo zaka 6 eeeee chilango. Kukwatiwa ndi ufulu wa munthu ganizani bwino kutsogoloku kudzakhala mahule ambiri , mabanja adxasowa .

  2. Yahudah says:

    It is time for a revolution to uproot all the wicked ones and burn out these evil government officials who is guilty of oppression and robbing the poor and enforcing their religious cult of democracy of man making his own laws and disrespecting the laws of YAH the mighty one of Israel the creator of heaven and earth. When a tree bears bad fruit it is chop down and burn. These wicked men that destroy our woman because of their greed.

  3. Proff. Ngangabulawayo says:

    Yes, I can foresee many marriage breakdowns in future becoz of such stupid laws which are one sided. Women will kill their husbands especialy those who have assets and liabilities, whether you like it or not.

  4. frustrated says:

    Malawi male MPs, whether on Govt side or opposition, are a big disappointment. You are so myopic and selfish. Why do allow useless laws like this to pass? The Last Parliament passed a Wills and Inheritance Law that portrays a woman as a victim and aims to protect her. But look here – a lot of women these days are wild. You will be shocked to learn of the experiences of most families that have lost their male relatives at the hands these wicked these women. I have a bitter experience

    Why can’t you borrow a leaf from Kenyan MPs who look at laws like this seriously and protect future generations from imported western ideologies? To get a clear picture of what am talking about just download the equivalent of a Wills and Inheritance Law.
    Human rights guys just promote some of these just to sustain their income earning

  5. If u want to see the true results of this laws go to RSA and see if one of the poorest country in the world can manage the consequences brought about by this laws,men will get arrested by falsely accused by their wives yo seize property,mark my words,and husbsnds out of anger gonna kill their own wives and themselves.wait and see.

  6. dumakude says:

    That’s why u rich ppl u don’t keep marriag just becouse u want to rural ur husbands telling them what to do. Mai kaliati here in the rural area things doesn’t work that way that’s why u see our marriage it last longer than u rich pple. So live us alon with ur stupid laws give them to ur children and ur ppl at ur area wherever u come from. Sis woman.

  7. dumakude says:

    Mayi kaliyati mwachita kuasanduka ngati njoka ya chipili kenaka mufunaso kutisithila malamulo akunja. Malamulo amanewo anawalephela aku south africa, ana akukula opanda bambo wawo. Amuna ambili mu south africa ali kundende chifukwa cha muchitidwe umenewo wankhanza. Mai musatiwonongele dziko chifukwa choti mukutsamba mkaka, kusitha nkhope ngati kuti mufuna kusanduka mukaladi or mu indian.

  8. Paul Dolezar says:

    Does the act deal with rapists like Reverend Father Dasiano Muhime

  9. womenslib says:

    The comments here are indicative of the stupidity and backwardness of Malawian men. Rape is wrong within and outside of marriage. Do you not understand this? You do not have the right to do whatever you want with somebody elses body. Marriage is supposed to be an equal partnership and is not supposed to be based on fear and intimidation. No wonder our country is going to the dogs. Idiots living in 1799 in a 2015 world. You fools need to join this century and stop living in the past. Do you know how much rape hurts….I guess not. Stupid animals. I cringe in embarrassment when I read your comments. Useless villagers. Actaully having the small brain to type AIDS will actually go up because of this law.Shame.

  10. mlimba says:

    Chifukwa chamalamulo ngati amenewa ndi chifukwa chake azimayi ambiri aku south africa sakwatiwa amazimva kamba koti malamulo amawakomela. Mabanja ambiri azitha chifukwa chamalamulo anu opusawo. Izi nzolimbikitsa uhule mmanja chifukwa mzimayi angathe kuchita chiwerewere ndi mamuna wina kufika kunyumba kukana kugona ndimamuna wake chifukwa watopa kale.

  11. Chris Banda says:

    Sharia is the solution,the only most supreme law from God

  12. Nawaoo says:

    mayiwa akusandukatu mzungu!

  13. mphwanye says:

    Ichi ndiye chibwana. mukufuna mabanja athe. This will increase aids believe you me. akakana spouses will find altenative somewhere. I think this is the problem with electing mps who dont know how to use their brains. How cam you copy western culture into ours. Do these mps even understand the bill and its social implications. I doubt.

  14. Mbonga Matoga says:

    Marital rape is always controversial, and difficult to prove as the only witnesses are the two people involved.
    In other countries wicked women have sued their husbands / partners for marital rape in order to get hold of their property when the husbands are jailed.

    My advice to Malawian women is that please be self reliant by working hard at school to secure good jobs and / or work hard in business to never depend on your partners for your own livelihood.
    There is no need for a woman to be living in the same house with a man who does not want or love them, you can never force someone to love you. If you are separated then its time for one of you to leave the house otherwise these marital rape cases will never stop.

    Most women depend on their husbands on everything so when they get separated they have nowhere to go, what a shame.

  15. Paul Vida says:

    Ntchito za DPP ndiye zimenezo the party is full of shit.

  16. Ndikutelo says:

    Pakafika pamenepa ine ndimasilila chisilamu ndi Maiko a chisilamu,samangotengeka ndi china chili chonse chomwe nzungu wanena ndipo wins WA kukamwa kong’ambika ngati Patricia kaliyati akangoyelekeza kubweletsa mfundo zauchitsilu ngati zoti akazanga azindisumila ndikati ndigone nawo(kulongosola banja)asakufuna,woteleyo moyo wake umakhala pa chiophsyezo. After as far am concerned all the advocates of this strange law are not rall model. Zokhumudwitsa kwambiri.

  17. aisha says:

    Mwakhwana akweni

  18. Jeremy says:

    koma akweni – imeneyi make-up

  19. eluby says:

    uchitsiru wanu osalemekeza amunawo ndi omwe mukufuna nawo zimenezo , ife athu amuna timawapatsa ulemu ndipi amatilemekeza no need for that akusiyanibe muona mukuona ngati zimenezo zooopsezera?

  20. john says:


  21. Patrick Majoni says:

    It will take another decade for 90% of local malawians to understand the contents of the so called marriage bill.Never the less,there is no way aman can rape his own lawfully married wife.Even the bible says ”MUSAKANIZANE” After all who are you to condem sex in marriege?Zimenezo muzizitsatira ndinu ndikuphunzira kwanuko.Banja ndilolemekezeka,there is no way nkazi anganene kuti wagwililidwa ndi mwamuna wake.Paja enawa ndi osakwatiwa nde akufuna athetse mabanja.Zauhule eti?I take this bill as pure nosense.Pangani bill yoti malipiro aogwira ntchito m’boma asamachedwe.Osati zautsiruzo.

  22. brutsha says:

    Kaliati picture looks too artificial. That’s bad. Black race be proud of your natural skin.

  23. brutsha says:

    These are issues very much entrenched in cultural values. Simungazikwanitse izi. The end result is an upward turn of divorce rates which the Western world is the living victim reeling in regrets with their own faulty decision.

  24. brutsha says:

    These are issues very much entrenched in cultural values. Simungazikwanitse izi. The end result is an upward turn of divorce rates which the Western world is the living victim reeling with their own faulty decision.

  25. Hamu says:

    Lamuloli muyenera kuwaphunzisa bwino azimayi achimalawi chifukwa alitengera kulakwikwa. Ndipo mabanjamu mubwera mipungwepungwe ngati simuwaunikira lomwe zikutathauza.

  26. Tengupenya says:

    Govt management of relationships. Some men will learn to negotiate more.

  27. Nyani wa ku Mwananyani says:

    Both “K’s” (Akweni Kaliati and Kabwira-Kapasula) must agree, as they do, about the overall benefit of this bill to Malawi. If K-K disagreed, she would certainly look sheepish; thereby endangering her position in the feminist crowd. But the credit really goes to Akweni, for seeing this bill to fruition; even when she was being called derogatory names. The “girl” has guts! Asah.
    Brave and fair men will also support this bill (when they think about their mothers, sisters and daughters). Not only for its progress in the treatment of girls. But also for broadly painting a modern picture of relationships in marriage in our society. Now, enforcement of the law is one major endeavor we must assiduously support. Anything less would be an abrogation of moral responsibility.

  28. Evidence says:

    Kamba girls get ready as now men will be afraid of commiting rape. I am yet to know how evidence will be gathered as married people engage in sex when they are two of them in the confine of their bedroom. Now women or men will have grounds to bring charges to their spouse if there are disagreements. This is the most stupid law that can be supported by the Kabwiras of this world who dont know how to sustain a man in marriage.

  29. Nkhombokombo says:

    Mai Kaliati is right. These reservesions should have been discussed in parly before passing the Bill. It’s unfortunate that mai Kaliati is known for such absurd remarks. You guys are there as our voices and speack and argue for us there. Don’t just sit ndwii!! during debate time. You pass some Bills which may not benefit the nation because some guy failed to give his genuine contribution to the Bill during debate time. Laws are passed not because they are good but because they were debated, understood and agreed by you guys in parly. Don’t waste time now outside when time would have been given to you on the floor. Sorry bwana.

  30. alukosyo says:

    With these kind of regulations uhule uchuluka. Akakana. basi wautali ku bwandilo kamba bangwe kukawona Zosakanizani zosavutanso

  31. Dont give adamn marital rape and ladies dont take this wrong!

  32. concerned citizen says:

    This is a useless bill and will not change anything. No wonder wives are very challenging IN, our homes these days. Kodi za pension bill za after 6 months uzilandira zako zonse ziri pati???!!!! These are bills we need.

  33. Gimbogo says:

    DPP is best known for enacting bad laws

  34. Name*sammy says:

    Kodi dzikoli mukulitengera kuti?Mpaka tizimangitsana, very stupid.

  35. nkunthamasese says:

    kweeni pa ziri zonse ukalipepo basi ? kolonayo azikukhuzumula.eeh nawe kweeni watotani?

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