Press Realease : Grenada Spotlight- No more leniency for intimate rapists

Grenada Spotlight: No more leniency for men who rape their wives. Equality in rape sentencing needed

Rapists who attack their spouses should face the same penalties as other rapists, says the multi-partner Grenada Spotlight Initiative which works to eliminate violence against women and girls. 

Currently, those who rape their spouses incur a maximum sentence of 14 years, while the maximum for non-spousal rapists is 30 years. Lawmakers are now looking at a recommendation to remove this distinction, a development fully supported by Spotlight, as it champions targeted legal reform challenging antiquated norms.  

The Initiative welcomes the fact that marital rape has been recognised as a crime since 2012 in Grenada but argues that greater progress is needed.

“It’s vitally important that we achieve parity in rape sentencing. Marital rape is not a lesser kind of rape. This is an unacceptable assumption. Lack of consent is lack of consent, whether from a spouse, acquaintance or stranger.”

The distinctions between spousal rape and stranger rape have historical roots in 17th century British common law, as Spotlight emphasises, where the wife was deemed to have given ‘perpetual implied consent’ to sex by getting married.

Alongside Grenada, several other countries in the Caribbean retain such justifications. Under the Sexual Offences Act of Antigua and Barbuda – which calls spousal rape ‘sexual assault’ – the maximum sentence is 15 years’ imprisonment for a husband convicted of spousal sexual assault in contrast to life imprisonment for offenders of non-spousal rape.  Similar discrepancies also exist in Dominica.

However, some countries in the region have achieved sentencing parity. In Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, the maximum sentence for all rape is life imprisonment.[1]

 “Other countries have shown us change is possible. We now need to spearhead that change in Grenada to achieve parity of justice for survivors of spousal rape.”  

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Further notes on Spotlight Initiative

The European Union partnering with the United Nations launched the Spotlight Initiative to secure political commitments and catalyse global actions aimed at eliminating violence against women worldwide. The initiative currently operates in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Pacific, providing funding, capacity and connection building, programmatic support and other forms of assistance towards its purpose of eliminating VAWG.

The Grenada Spotlight Initiative “is designed to focus attention, coordinate human effort, and strategically apply resources to the implementation of a well-conceived comprehensive national programme to contribute to end family violence and all forms of violence against women and in Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique”. The initiative is organised around six pillars of programming, namely: (1) ‘Legislative and Policy Frameworks’, (2) ‘Strengthening Institutions’, (3) Prevention and Social Norms, (4) ‘Delivery of High Quality, Essential Services (5) Data Availability and Capacities’, and (6), ‘Supporting Women’s Movements’.


[1] See Barbados Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act, s. 3 (2002); Jamaica Sexual Offences Act 2009 (Act 12/2009), s. 6(1); Guyana Sexual Offences Act Cap 8.03, ss.3 and 37(1).

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