As with any culture and society, theres a downplay on rape within marriage under the context of domestic violence. The issue of whether rape is a recognised concept in marriage has been discussed on numerous occasions. The factor seemingly at play in perpetuating the notion of there being no rape in marriage boils down to the understanding of the following hadith

Book 008, Number 3366:
Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported that Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) said: When a woman spends the night away from the bed of her husband, the angels curse her until morning. This hadith has been narrated through the same chain of transmitters (with a slight variation):” He said: Until she comes back.”

The angels cursing quandry was discussed over at Suroor’s blog. An often ommitted hadith in relation to marriage and the relationship between the husband and wife is that of treating the wife kindly

The best among you are those who are best to their wives.
Narrated in Ibn Majah, #1978, and Al-Tirmizi, #3895

On the whole there seems to be a culture of shame or on the flipside maligning Islam by raising awareness or admitting rape exists within a marriage and is a issue of great concern. Rather than having it brushed under the carpet or hushed, it should be discussed and addressed.

Organic Muslimah asks whether censorship of this kind is islamic or cultural:

I never thought our religion required us to cover-up marital rape and abuse. I believe if we follow the censorship mentality then victims will remain victimized, and abusers will remain abusive. On the contrary, I believe that it’s mandatory as a Muslimah to help make Muslims aware of the serious problem facing the Muslim community when it comes to domestic violence.

I wonder, why do Muslims, from other cultures, fail to see the importance of spreading awareness? It almost sounds like we are going back to the Arab honor mentality, “our honor comes before everything; for our honor we shall hide rape, incest, sexism, assault, abuse, modern-slavery, and any injustice.”

Is domestic violence a real issue? Does it have any real bearing when it comes to supporting the claim of rape within a marriage? Or does rape not exist since in a marriage the wife and husband are meant to be available to one another, so refusal isn’t an option?

Is not discussing rape in marriage, as OM asked, all about cultural factors of saving face, maintaining honour and respect amongst the community and your peers? How do we address this problem amongst Muslims?

Edit: The value attached to honour and shame isnt a phenomenon restricted to Arab cultures alone, its a pertinent issue amongst South East Asian’s as can be seen from this article a few weeks back where it was found very few people of Asian background would report child abuse to the authorities