328 Rape and Sexual Assault
➤ A woman often
finds it harder to ask
for help if the man is
someone she knows.
It is also harder to
feel safe if she must
see him again.
There are many different kinds of sexual assault. But only a
few of them are seen by most people as rape. For example,
sometimes life events can push a woman into having sex when
she does not really want to. This can happen in a marriage.
Some married women are made to feel that having sex is their
duty, whether they want to or not. Although society does not
punish this type of forced sex, it is still wrong.
For other women, having sex is a way to survive—to get
support for their children, to have a place to live or some
money, or to keep a job. No matter what the reason is, a woman
should not be forced to have sex if she does not want to.
In any relationship, a woman can choose to accept or refuse
a sexual approach. If she refuses, the man then has a choice to
either respect her and accept her decision, to try and change her
mind, or to force her. Even if the woman knows the man and
says “yes,” if saying “no” was not really an option, then it is rape.
Any time a woman is forced to have sex, whether or not
there is other violence too, it can cause many problems with her
health and emotions.
Rape by someone the woman knows
Most women who are raped know the man who rapes them.
If the woman must continue to have contact with him, it can
make it very hard for her to recover from the rape and to tell
others about it.
Rape by a husband or ex-husband. If the law or traditional
custom treats a woman as the property of her husband, he may
think he has the right to have sex whenever he wants, even if
the woman does not want it.
A woman can be raped by her boyfriend. Her boyfriend may
say he has the right to have sex because he has spent money on
her, because they have had sex before, because she has teased
him sexually, or because he has offered to
marry her. But if he forces her, it is
still rape. A woman may find
it hard to talk about this
kind of rape, because
she fears others will
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012