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ISSN: 0331-4111  e-ISSN: 2736-075X
Volume 19, No. 1, June 2021
Pages 118-131

DOI: 10.36108/NJSA/1202.91.0180

Male Perception on Sexual Consent and Coercion in Heterosexual Marriages: The Case of Benue State, Nigeria

1 Peter Msuega Azende and 2 Terhile Jude Ahoo

1, 2 Benue State University, Makurdi, Nigeria


The issue of sexual consent in marriage which is deeply problematic due to the persistence of socio-cultural constraints on women’s sexual agency and sexual decision-making has received less attention. Emerging evidence suggests that coerced, pressured and unwanted sexual activities are generally still common experiences of women. Research concerning male’s opinions on women’s consent to sex in marriage remains scarce. In this article, we explored men’s perceptions on sexual consent seeking and receiving within the context of marriage in order to expose the traditional gender imbalances, and interrogate the male-privileging ideals. Deploying a qualitative research approach, 8 Focus Group Discussions (FGD) with men aged 25-55years and in-depth interviews (IDI) with 12 key Informants were conducted to elicit data. Transcripts of each FGD and IDI were analyzed and major themes were developed. The study adopted the scripting and radical feminism as theoretical underpinnings. The findings revealed that the prevailing socio-cultural context in which men live has tremendous impact on their perceptions on women’s sexual rights and consent in marriage. Most men in the study understand sex in marriage as just one of the duties of a wife. Results also suggest that token resistance beliefs and alcohol consumption among men encourage forced sex. This study clearly shows that the issue of sexual coercion in marriage is fuelled by patriarchal control over women’s sexuality and requires serious attention in the study area. We therefore recommend cultural reorientation and enactment of laws to deal with the issue of non-consensual sex in marriage.

Keywords:Sexual agency, sexual coercion, consent, socialization, males’ perception

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