Rape is acknowledged by all as a crime of violence that harms the victim both physically and psychologically. However, here in California, prior to a recent amendment to the law, AB 1171, California was one of just eleven states that distinguished “spousal rape” from “rape” so rapists who were convicted of spousal rape law faced less severe sentences. "When spousal rape is not treated as seriously as other forms of rape, it invalidates the victims' traumatic experiences and continues to promote rape culture. Moreover, a rapist should not be shielded from punishment simply because the rapist is married to the victim,” writes the author of the bill, Cristina Garcia.
2022’s enactment of AB 1171 worked to repeal the provision of Penal Code section 262, rooted in antiquated views that wives were the property of their husbands, which differentiated between “rape’ and “spousal rape,” which means that a defendant convicted of raping a spouse will now face a mandatory prison sentence and be required to register as a sex offender.
This change is lauded by a wide variety of groups, including the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), which found that between 10-14% of married women have been or may experience rape by their spouse, and that 18% of these victims state their children have witnessed the rape.
“Rape is rape, regardless of the relationship between the rapist and a victim,” says co-author Senator Dave Cortese (D-San Jose). “The idea that marital rape should be punished less severely is absurd and this legal loophole can’t continue to be ignored.”
If you’ve been charged with a crime of sexual violence and wish to consult with Devina about your case, you can reach her here.
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