“3 to be Free”

“3 to be Free”

Partner Organizations: Equality Effect (Canada); The Federation of Women Lawyers (Kenya); Women and Law in Southern Africa(Malawi); Women Integrated Development Organization (Ghana); Women in Law and Development in Africa (Ghana)

“3 to be Free” is the equality effect’s legal initiative to achieve the criminalization of marital rape in our 3 partner countries, in 3 years, using a combination of 3 different legal strategies (public legal education, policy reform, and litigation). Legal impunity for marital rape means that men can rape their wives without facing legal prosecution. Legal impunity for marital rape means that women are treated as chattels, leaving them vulnerable to other kinds of violence.

The equality effect has recently completed an intensive round of innovative research on the legal impunity for marital rape, and established that the failure to criminalize marital rape constitutes a human rights violation. We have recently received funding to undertake the next stage of research on this project, on the legal treatment of consent in sexual assault cases (at present consent is assumed when women enter into marriage). We are also in the process of developing public education materials on the need to criminalize marital rape, to be piloted in Ghana.

Criminalizing marital rape means that in taking marriage vows, women are not abdicating control over their own bodies, and that married women have the right to say “no”. It means that women will be treated as persons and not property. Equality within the institution of marriage is a prerequisite of equal citizenship.


The "3 to be Free" campaign was profiled in the Globe and Mail.
Learn more about Equality Effect.