Why Marital Rape Doesn't Exist in Africa -- According to the Media

03/02/2011 01:50 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

When a young child or elderly woman is the victim of a sexual assault in Africa, it IS covered in the news. When a husband has forcible and unwanted sex with his wife, is that newsworthy? Apparently not.

It seems that many journalists and editors in Africa don't feel that marital rape is a topic of interest to their readership and therefore it does not get the visibility it deserves. It is hard to imagine this type of business approach has been applied to such a physically and emotionally disturbing act.

According to the 2008-2009 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey, "at least 14 percent of married women said their current husband or partner had forced them to have sex in the past year, while another 37 percent had been subjected to sexual violence at some point in their relationship.

Thirty-seven percent? That means more than three in every 10 women surveyed suffered sexual abuse at the hands of their intimate partner? This is astounding! Even more absurd is the fact that very little media coverage exists to bring this issue to the forefront.

Through Just Like My Child's Project Justice program, we see many cases of domestic sexual abuse that go unreported due in part because of the social acceptance of the behavior and because the police are generally a corrupt faction of the community and the lawmakers do not want to "waste their time" on such matters.

Just Like My Child has created a comprehensive training program for hospital staff, community members, and local legal authorities. As a result of this program, women and children will have access to health care professionals at the hospital who know what the law is, and how to enforce it. The community members will be empowered with knowledge of their rights so that they can approach the police and demand their rights without fear of bribery or corruption.

Arthur Okwemba, a journalist with the African Women and Child Feature Service in Kenya clearly took a stand when he wrote, "by not reporting on these stories, the media becomes part of the problem, almost as culpable as the perpetrators of violence. We need to demand action from our media. Action that will transform our newsrooms and ensure gender-based violence is treated as the serious human rights abuse it is."

Kudos to Mr. Okwemba for taking the risk to call out his colleagues and demand they stop sitting on the sidelines and take action to help African women.

With Project Justice we are providing women with a resource for healing, and education to be proactive, and a voice in the judicial system. If you share Just Like My Child's passion for protecting children and women, please support our efforts with a tax-deductible donation.

Learn more at or email Vivian at

To read the full story regarding marital rape, go to: "Africa: Media's Role in Marital Rape" by Arthur Okwemba