“By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law, that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage or at least incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband”. This doctrine of coverage gave husbands physical and legal control over their wives. 
Thus, for years, married women lacked legal standing apart from their husbands to enter contracts, own property, or defend themselves in court. Consequently, a husband would be unlikely to go to court on behalf of his wife to allege he had raped her. Moreover, the fact that the court and police are often reluctant to pierce the veil of privacy regarding sexual matters as they are seen at the heart of marital and familiar relations served as another justification for exemption. The law did not reach domestic violence largely because it occurred in the private sphere of the spouses. The marital rape exemption was also defended on the notion that a woman’s marriage vows provided ongoing consent to her husband’s sexual commands.
Marital rape is also highly prevalent in Ethiopia; however, is considered as an incident that can happen between spouses, which is tolerable. In this regard, a survey conducted by Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association (EWLA) in 2008 showed that out of 208 women that were surveyed, 14.9% were victims of marital rape whereas 10.8% reported that they were insulted when they refused sex, 5.4% were raped when they refused sex and 1.4 % were beaten. These women were ranging in education from illiterate to those with second degrees, employed as housewives or employed by government or self-employed.
The notion of marital rape is highly challenged because of cultural notions that it is the duty of a wife in a marriage to submit to her husband’s sexual requests. In this regard, aware of the responsibility of consummation in a marriage, 17% of victims stated that their rejection stood on grounds such as the husband was drunk, conflicting with their husband, not feeling good, dissatisfaction with their lives, and fear of contracting HIV. As this aggression results in physical damages and psychological traumas on victims, the study puts forward recommendations that call for the attention of the legal system, academic institutions, and civil society organisations working at the grass root level
Another survey conducted by World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that out of 3,000 women surveyed in Ethiopia to measure sexual violence, 59% of women questioned had faced sexual violence from an intimate partner. These data outputs expose the extent of the act at in Ethiopia even though it goes unrecognised as a crime.
However marital rape is given relatively very little attention by the legal system as well as society, it has far reaching consequences such as, short term effect of anxiety, shock, intense fear, depression, suicidal ideation, disordered sleeping and post-traumatic stress disorder and a long term effect of disordered eating, sleep problems, depression, sexual distress, and problems establishing trusting relationships, distorted body image and increased negative feelings about themselves. The same research also indicates that the psychological effects are likely to be long lasting.
Therefore, the law must intervene to regulate incidents of marital rape because the act is a violation of the fundamental rights of women. Ethiopia is a party to international conventions such as CEDAW. Hence, is at duty to legislate laws that serve the protection of women’s rights. Therefore, bringing perpetrators to justice by criminalising the act is not an option. Criminalising marital rape not only deters the acts of other potential perpetrators but also satisfies victims’ expectations to see justice be served. However, criminalising this act must also be coupled with redresses as it would be to no avail, if the women are not compensated for the violations.
 Morgan Lee, Marital rape a unique problem, (2007), p. 34
 Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association, Berchi, (2008), p.45
 id, p.46