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An Online Resource Library on Gender-Based Violence.

Spousal Rape Laws

General Material


"Until the late 1970s, most states did not consider spousal rape a crime. Typically, spouses were exempted from the sexual assault laws--laws traceable to a seventeenth-century judicial prouncement that a husband cannot be guilty of rape of his wife 'for by their mutual matrimonial consent and contract the wife hath given up herself in this kind unto the husband which she cannot retract.' In the late 1970s, however, feminists began efforts to change these laws. Currently, rape of a spouse is a crime in all 50 states and the District of Columbia."
"While spousal rape is now considered a crime, victims often have to overcome additional legal hurdles to prosecution not present for other victims of rape. These include time limits for reporting the offense, a requirement that force or threat of force be used by the offender, and the fact that some sexual assault offenses still preclude spousal victims."