California Continues to Treat Wives as Sexual Property
Rape a Stranger and Go to Prison, But Rape Your Wife and Get Probation
In California, if you commit rape, you can go to prison, and have your name added to the sex registry. But if the victim is your wife, you are eligible for probation, and you may not even have to register as a sex offender.
This sharp distinction is "based on the idea that men have a property right of sexual access to the bodies of their wives . . . Historically, men could rape their wives with impunity."
While it's hard to explain this sharp legal distinction - especially in light of current developments regarding sexual interactions and abuses - except as an historic relic, some legislators may believe that being forced to have sex with someone a woman regularly engages in intercourse with is less traumatic, and therefore less serious, than being forced to have sex for the first time with a stranger, or even an acquaintance.
Also, they may try to argue that a wife has the option of seeking a divorce, and possibly forcing a financial settlement and/or loss of child custody on the husband, whereas the victim of a non-spousal rape would not have those options.
An opponent explains: "I'm trying to figure out what problem we're trying to solve . . . A police officer can come to the door in a domestic dispute and basically tell a disgruntled partner, 'If you tell me he raped you, I can arrest him as a felon'" he explained.
He wants a law, he told Knight, that "does not dismantle family units due to false accusations."
Nevertheless, it's difficult to defend not even holding a hearing on these two bills - Assembly Bill (AB) 812 and Senate Bill (SB) 530 - to permit proponents and opponents to each explain their positions and concerns, present evidence relating to the issues, and finally have a debate and a vote on the bills, as least within the appropriate committees, argues Banzhaf.
States which, like California, continue to treat marital and non-marital rape differently, with certain variations, reportedly include Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Virginia.