A survey by ‘End Violence Against Women Coalition,’ reported that a “third of people in the UK think it isn’t usually if a woman is pressured into having sex but there is no physical violence.” A common misunderstanding is the legal interpretation of domestic abuse which does not have to be physical. For more information about domestic abuse refer to the article under the heading of news in this site.
What are the historical views of non-consensual sex in a marriage?
In 1736, Sir Matthew Hale, a former Chief Justice of the Court of King’s Bench in England, argued that “the husband of a woman cannot himself be guilty of an actual rape upon his wife, on account of the matrimonial consent which she has given, and which she cannot retract.”
It was not until 1991 that the legal principal changed in the landmark case R v R  UKHL 12, where the husband was convicted of attempting to rape his wife. The Home Office also issued guidance to the police to help them improve the police treatment of women who have been the victim of rape (including marital rape).
The Law – Sexual Offences Act 2003
Section 1 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, states that a person (A) commits rape if:-
It should be noted that a female cannot be charged with committing rape because the offence requires penile penetration. A woman commits a sexual act without the consent of her spouse or ex-spouse, she is committing a sexual offence and can be charged with:
Criminal Courts -vs – Family Courts
The Criminal Courts deal with persons accused of committing a crime and deciding whether they are guilty and if so deciding the consequences. The police will initially investigate any accusations and present the evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The CPS will consider whether there is sufficient evidence to support a conviction if a crime with the evidence available.
The Family Courts in England & Wales deal with legal disputes in respect of children and the breakdown of relationships. An individual can make an application to the Family Court directly or via a family law solicitor for disputes relating to where children will reside/level of time to be spent with the non-resident parent (sometimes referred to as ‘custody battle’), domestic abuse, divorce and division of financial assets etc.
The main two factors that differ between the Criminal Courts and the Family Courts:
The government has recently launched a campaign where victims of domestic abuse can ask for help at 2,600 chemists, by using the codeword “ANI” (Action Needed Immediately); pronounced as “ANNIE”. The protocol is that the person behind the counter will take you into a consultation room so that you can speak freely without your abuser being present or alerted.
What we can do to help you:
We have found that commonly many people feel afraid to seek help when being subjected to sexual abuse or in some cases not realising that the abuse they are suffering falls into the category of sexual abuse. There has been a steer in legal professionals understanding of sexual abuse with more men finding the confidence and resources to seek help, although there is still a long way to go in raising awareness.
Traditionally, some cultures that have deep rooted values in marriage have struggled to adapt to accessing help from those outside of their community. We understand how difficult it can be to seek help and offer confidential, compassionate advice to consider your legal rights within the family courts.
This blog is not to be taken as legal advice and you should contact us with full details of your own circumstances so we can advise you.
Specialises in: Family Law
This article was co-authored by Miss Sandhu (Family Solicitor)
If you are looking for help and advice, or would like to talk to someone in the strictest confidence, please contact Kiran Reyat in the Family Law department at Comptons Solicitors LLP. (firstname.lastname@example.org / 020 3869 4466).