Bedroom bullies: When spouse denies partner conjugal rights

  • We peep into bedrooms and report mistreatment and abuse that some couples subject each other to
  • We explore some of the options that such fellows, most of whom suffer in silence, have

Of late, we have had many cases of domestic violence as a result of husbands or wives being denied conjugal rights.

Not long ago, we had the case of a Mombasa man who, fed up with excuse after excuse flipped and set his house on fire after his wife allegedly denied him sex.

Then we had the case of long-suffering women in Ndeiya ward, Kiambu County, who weeks back, hit the cold streets of Limuru town, peacefully protesting unavailability of husbands to make them pregnant, citing rampant alcoholism.

“If you walk in this village, you will find so many young married women, but only a few are pregnant. Those who are not are suffering in silence because their men cannot perform,” said 32-year-old Nancy Wangare, who claimed to be a single mother from Thigio area and separated with her husband four years ago due to lack of sex in the marriage.

Contrary to mainstream perception, being denied conjugal rights is not just a problem only men bear the brunt.

Seemingly, so many wives are victims, too, but chose to suffer in silence due to their socialisation on matters to do with sex.

It’s perhaps only the seemingly ‘liberated, outspoken and no nonsense’ women from Central Kenya, who have publicly come out to fight for this vital right.

Small wonder then that there have been many cases of men getting their private parts chopped off as a result of same or alcoholism from there than any other region in the country.

In as much as it might look like a non-issue, many marriages have fallen apart, with some men getting second or even third wives over the ‘small matter’ of conjugal rights.

In a leaked phone conversation between a popular trade unionist and his second wife, she is heard moaning that besides money: “... there are other things you don’t provide,” before the furious man cuts her short, loudly wondering whether that’s the reason she cheats with poor men!

Here at Crazy Monday, we know it is a bit late in the day to be proposing constitutional amendments.

But as taxpaying Kenyans, we are concerned with the glaring omission of this sensitive matter of national importance from the Bill of Rights. 

Don’t laugh! Look, when you go through the new Katiba, you fail to understand how and why the able Committee of Experts, which comprised both men and women, downplayed this issue, which, like land, is very contentious.

What married men and women, who suffer in silence as is the case with many other rights, don’t seem to notice is that they are, get this, entitled to sexual rights and privileges in that so-called ‘institution of marriage’, by law.

Small wonder then, that, it’s one of the common grounds, together with cruelty, on which many high-profile divorce cases have been based.

“Actually, when a legally married man or woman refuses to offer these rights to their partner, the aggrieved party has every right to file a suit, protesting the restitution of conjugal rights,” says Felix Andiva, a practicing lawyer in Nairobi.

The good lawyer, however, goes on to explain that this is always easier said than done because of the heavy burden of proof.

“In a court of law, all that is needed is nothing but evidence and hard facts,” says the lawyer, laughing off the possibility of an individual dragging a spouse to court to be punished for denying them conjugal rights.

If the cases we randomly sampled are anything to go by, women tend to be the biggest culprits in withholding this rights from their husbands for the most frivolous and ridiculous reasons.

Crazy excuses wives give

For a certain James*, like it reportedly is the case for many husbands, his wife always comes up with all manner of excuses.

“It’s that time of the month… I just did my hair… I have a nasty headache… Haki we will wake up the kids… I am not in the mood…. are a sample of some of the common excuses she always comes up with”, says James, as he unsuccessfully suppresses a chuckle.

In some cases, such wives slide in bed dressed in jeans or ‘bikers’! However, the worst-case scenario, as some men told us, is when religion is the excuse.

Imagine of a man who resisted temptations, especially in this day and age of naughty and ‘loose’ slay queens, until he got married, with the hope that he would get regular sex in exchange for faithfulness.

But just after the first child is born, Christ became the head of the house, with anything and everything being preceded with prayer and many other worldly stuff being blacklisted and considered evil.

“Nowadays, born again wives’ seem to be desperate to save their bedroom obligations for the man upstairs! This, of course, is nothing but psychological trauma for those brothers who remain celibate and only break their virginity during the honeymoon night,” says Mark*, who confesses of having been denied his conjugal rights on several occasions but insists he has nothing against religious convictions.

Truth be told, in some cases, as we have been informed, the holier-than-thou attitude is a protest or manipulation of sorts. Why would a wife go out of her way to spare a whole weekend for keshas (night vigils) presided over by a male pastor, but will lack even half an hour for her man, when his urges come calling?

But partly, as a sociologist have pointed out, the society is to blame. Most women are socialised to object to sex. So much so that they grow up demonising it.

They get into marriage with sex having acquired a bad name in their minds, so much so that they hardly notice its central place in the union.

Suing a spouse who denies a partner their conjugal rights is an appropriate remedy only that it comes with a lot of embarrassment, especially when the public gets to know of it.

For such suffering spouses, the options are limited. Pastors are likely to suggest you pray about it; friends and relatives and colleagues are likely to ask the male victim to get another wife or ‘mpango wa kando’ for occasional relief.

To appreciate the rampancy of this problem, a pastor in Nairobi’s Kayole estate, in a story this magazine published a while back, warned female congregates, telling them not to use “fake periods” to deny their husbands conjugal rights.

As for cheating, it’s a special skill, which few men and women have what it takes to get away with it. For women, it’s even a bigger risk when caught, with the likelihood of divorce, assault or worse.

“When you think of having a mpango wa kando, most are very expensive and untenable in this terrible economy. Divorce can be very expensive and messy. This leaves such victims with self-gratification as the only option, which is odd when one is married and even paid dowry,” complains Peter*, who was once in a sexless marriage before seeking counselling with his spouse.

Victim’s limited options

However, the a million dollar question here is, what does a faithful husband or wife who doesn’t want to sin do?

As one man proposed, should we, just like in major fights against national problems such as corruption or cohesion and integration, come up with something like a National Conjugal Rights Commission, whose mandate will be to resolve major sexual disputes?

Aimed at taming this unhappiness that can easily instigate murder, broken families or infidelity?

Doesn’t this, just like ethnicity and graft to our country’s stability threaten the stability of families in this great nation, the welfare of children, lead to loss of morals and the eventual disruption of society as whole?

In addition, with such a framework, the accused spouse, especially men, now that they happen to be common victims to this, will have an opportunity to enjoy their right to be considered innocent until proven guilty, as they enjoy conjugal rights.

Once they get informed of their mistakes, they at least get enough time to prepare answers and all.

Meanwhile, that commission should be well funded to go countrywide, educating spouses, especially wives, the importance of sex in marriage.

Needless to mention, remind wives that the average man, unlike women who are complicated with their needs and wants, gets married largely for sex, food and children.

Also, of great importance, they have to be reminded that denying a spouse his conjugal rights is a threat to stability of family and, by extension, national cohesion and integration.  

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