In California, rape of a spouse isn’t treated as full rape under the law. End the spousal rape exceptions!

  • by: Care2 Team
  • recipient: The California Senate Appropriations Committee

It may come as a surprise to many in 2021 that until the 1970s in the United States, rape was legal when the victim was married to the perpetrator. These horrible gaps in the law are referred to as marital or spousal rape exceptions -- for the words "rape" and "exception" to appear next to each other in any phrase is gutwrenching. Marital rape is a form of domestic violence and sexual abuse, and it's utterly wild that there was a time in the U.S. when one of those crimes basically canceled out the other. 

Thankfully, these horrendous rape exceptions were amended -- but because these laws are on a state level, not all ammendments were as thorough as others. This means that some states, including California, still have exceptions and leniency baked into the law actually protecting rapists that attack their spouses.

That's why California needs AB-1171, and act that would eliminate any and all spousal rape exceptions in the state. Sign the petition supporting AB-1171 today!

Under California law, spousal rape is technically illegal but treated very differently than non-spousal rape. This is a ridiculous and dangerous distinction -- it's like saying domestic violence isn't as bad as other forms of violence, when it in fact can be far worse. Rape within a marriage is rape, period; and when a victim and perpetrator are married, living together, and their lives are legally linked, it often means that the violence and abuse is longterm, a pattern, and can escalate. 

Rapists that attack their spouses in California are subject to lesser charges than someone who attempts, but doesn't complete, the rape of a non-spouse. Marital rapists are also eligible for probation, even though all other rapists are not. 

Over the years, there have been literally a dozen attempts to amend these double standards in the law, but all 12 have failed. Now, after months-long lockdowns that have led to huge spikes in domestic violence as victims have been trapped at home with their abusers, we cannot let this attempt fail. 

If we let California's senators know that the entire Care2 community is watching, standing with that state's constituents who want to see this dangerous loophole closed, they will have all the more reason to do the right thing. 

AB-1171 passed unanimously in the California Senate Public Safety Committee. Now it is up to the Senate Appropriations Committee to vote it out of the suspense file and send it to the full Senate for a vote. Sign the petition asking that the California Senate Public Safety Committee send this bill forward without delay, and end the spousal rape exceptions in California!
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