The article tells the chilling story of a wife made victim by her husband, while Norway's Secretariat of the Shelter Movement is a source for rape figures. Ministry of Justice numbers point to 80 percent of such cases going unreported, with a 10 percent conviction rate for the few cases that end in court, the report says.
The article on marital rape, and a society with an alleged blind spot face with certain realities, comes at a time when Norwegian newspapers have reported on a surge of “after hours” sexual assaults. However, the New York Times report challenges the focus on “outdoor” rape to instead tackle taboo marriage cases indicative of a widespread societal problem.
The US newspaper reported that Norway and 126 other countries in the world do not yet “explicitly criminalize rape within marriage”, according to a United Nations report on the rights of women.
But Norwegian newspaper VG quoted the New York Times' own source, Tove Smaadahl of the Shelter Secretariat, arguing that "this criticism is not justified".
"The law applies to everybody, and it says that rape is prohibited. That applies regardless of the type of relationship," she told VG.
She was nevertheless glad The New York Times and other foreign media had taken up the cause against sexual assault in Norway.
“It makes the world more aware that Scandinavian countries also have problems,” Smaadahl told VG.
The New York Times article chronicled the sights witnessed by Oslo’s main shelters, where hundreds of women every year took shelter from the sexual assaults of “ambassadors, policemen and company directors”.