By SANCHESKA DORSETT
Tribune Staff Reporter
PASTOR Cedric Moss yesterday defended Minister of Social Services and Urban Development Lanisha Rolle over her recent controversial comments on marital rape.
In a 16-page paper called “Marital Rape - The Past and Present Discussions” which summarised the 2009 discussion on the issue and includes his thoughts on the current debate, Pastor Moss said Mrs Rolle’s statements were “measured and balanced” and said he believes she was “unjustifiably attacked”.
Last month, when asked outside a Cabinet meeting if martial rape should be criminalised, Mrs Rolle said the country does not support violence against women in any form but added: “In relation to marital rape, I have always said it is an issue that is private. It can become public, but we want to start where marriage is sacred and marriage is private.”
Her comments drew rebuke from social activists, women’s rights groups and community leaders, some of whom called for her immediate resignation.
However, Pastor Moss said he understands how Mrs Rolle feels, because he has also been attacked for his views on marital rape.
The senior pastor of Kingdom Life Church said while he believes that forced sexual intercourse within a marriage should be criminalised, the act should not be called rape because he believes “there is a difference between forced sexual intercourse outside of marriage (rape) and forced sexual intercourse in marriage (spousal sexual abuse) and that there should be separate laws to cover them.”
“Overall, Minister Rolle’s statement is measured and balanced, and she said two very important things which her critics ignored as they berated and bullied her and called for her resignation,” Mr Moss noted.
“First, she said she does not support any form of violence against women. On that point, she and her critics share common ground, but they ignored it. Second, Minister Rolle said that she believes that if government is going to pass legislation to affect married couples, it is proper to consult with the wider community to get their views on it. I would hope that Minister Rolle’s critics similarly support a consultative approach so that all interested parties might make their views known on any proposed legislation.”
Pastor Moss said if a wife does not desire sexual intercourse, it is wrong under any and all circumstances “to override her will and force upon her that which she does not desire.” He said the current discussion on marital rape should also serve as a reminder “that abuse, be it sexual or otherwise, and whether in or out of marriage, will not be tolerated.”
Nonetheless, Pastor Moss said calling forced intercourse within a marriage rape “is unhelpful and misleading because it departs from the entrenched practice of naming the offence to describe the crime.”
“The name of the offence needs to describe the crime, not confuse the crime,” he said.
“I believe that it is right to distinguish between an act of forced sexual intercourse perpetrated on a woman by a man to whom she is not married (rape) and an act of forced sexual intercourse perpetrated on a wife by her husband with whom she cohabits (spousal sexual abuse). Again, in the case of rape, both the sexual intercourse and the lack of consent are to be punished, but in the case of spousal sexual abuse, only the provable lack of consent through force, threat, or fear of bodily harm is to be punished, not the sexual intercourse.
“Therefore, if the government moves ahead to criminalise provable forced sexual intercourse within non-estranged marriages, which I believe should be done, I believe the offence should be called something like ‘spousal sexual abuse’ and ‘aggravated spousal sexual abuse’ that would cover cases where battery and/or sadistic treatment are involved.”
Pastor Moss made the following recommendations: The government should pass legislation to make forced sexual intercourse in non-estranged marriages a crime; the punishment for forced sexual intercourse in marriage should range up to life in prison to cover heinous acts; complainants in cases of forced sexual intercourse in marriage should not be allowed to drop the charge and it should be made an offence for a spouse to fabricate an allegation of forced sexual intercourse in marriage.