Partner or Property?

The world gapes in horror when stories break about women being sentenced to be raped as punishment for some marital or societal infraction. Yet as recently as 1996, 33 of our own states had laws on their books that allowed rape prosecution exemption for husbands in certain circumstances. In the state of Arizona spousal rape is currently a Class 6 felony, and though this is already the least serious of the felony classifications, judges can also treat such offenses as misdemeanors. While Arizona legislators are now looking to upgrade the crime to a Class 2 felony, a move that is nowhere near guaranteed to pass, members of the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee chose to not make spousal rape an equal crime to rape of other persons. The reality of these facts stands in stark contrast to the statistics that have found “between 10% and 14% of married women experience rape in marriage” and that “marital rape accounts for approximately 25% of all rapes.” Neither are they any further evolved than the 1979 quip of Sen. Bob Wilson: “But if you can’t rape your wife, who can you rape?”