Gifty will never forget the first time she was raped. She said a man ripped off her clothes, applied a cold, gel-like lubricant on her anus and forcibly rammed his penis inside of her. She said it was one of the worst forms of pain she ever felt in her life.
The perpetrator was her husband.
Another victim, Ama, recounted the fear she felt when her husband held her head down as he ejaculated up her nostrils. “I could not breathe,” she told Joy FM’s Animwaa Anim-Addo. Ama said the practice was a fetish for him; something he had done many times before.
There are few reports available on marital rape, partially due to the stigma partners fear if they report the abuse to authorities, says Dr. Paddy Ayitey, a medical doctor in the Greater Accra region.
He explained that in many cases, abused partners stay in broken marriages out of fear.
“Some stay because of the children. Some stay because they have nowhere else to go and unfortunately, these things cannot get better. Except for a miracle, it is not going to be better.”
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), 14% of women admitted that they were raped by their spouse. The report further revealed that adult marital rape victims were in a higher percentage bracket to have been molested as a child. The network predicts that these numbers underestimate the true prevalence of rape in marriage.
Ayitey thinks marital rape cases can be reduced, but the most critical step towards a path of healing is if the abuser is willing and wanting to change.
“If he is not willing to change, he will not change,” Ayitey said. “And it is all at the expense of their wives’ lives.”
Anim-Addo met with several victims of marital rape who all agreed that they live in fear from what their partners will do next.
“You find that they love these men. The things that people put up with because of love will amaze you.”
She further advised that if anyone is currently suffering from marital rape, they should find someone to talk to.
“And if someone comes to you with a story like this, don’t judge them. It is important that we listen,” Anim-Addo added.
If you or someone you know is a victim of marital rape, visit here.
*The names appeared in this article have been changed to protect the privacy of those who spoke to Joy FM.