We in the West are constantly prodded by pop culture to be turned on and up for it. Even staying in to wash your hair – that time-honoured turn-down – is nowadays sold as an orgasmic experience. Yet here’s the thing: we can always simply switch off.
We take that for granted, as we should. But we’re often so busy lamenting dry spells or joking awkwardly about what a great contraceptive marriage and parenthood makes, that we forget how hard-won a right it is, our right to say no.
A news story that emerged from Afghanistan a few days ago is a disturbing reminder.
As the UK’s Independent reports, back in March, the Afghan parliament passed legislation that effectively legalised marital rape.
World leaders were outraged (President Barack Obama described it as ‘abhorent’), and within the country itself, brave women took to the streets in protest, only to be attached by mobs of men.
President Hamid Karzai ordered a review of the law, and according to Human Rights Watch, signed off on the amendments July 8. All change?
Not exactly. Instead of condoning marital rape, it now permits husbands to starve wives who refuse sex. A host of other appalling clauses remain, say civil rights groups, including one that enables rapists to marry their victims by way of making amends.