Cultural norms and the social stigma often attached to rape can and do discourage the reporting of marital rape. Prosecution of marital rape is very rare in many countries.
Sadly, until 1976, marital rape was legal in every state in the United States. Although marital rape is now a crime in all 50 states in the U.S., some states still don't consider marital rape as serious as other forms of rape.
Raquel Kennedy Bergen: "The existence of some spousal exemptions in the majority of states indicates that rape in marriage is still treated as a lesser crime than other forms of rape and is evidence of societal patriarchy (DeKeseredy, Rogness, & Schwartz, 2004). This perpetuates marital rape by conveying the message that such acts of aggression are somehow less reprehensible than other types of rape. Importantly, the existence of any spousal exemption indicates an acceptance of the archaic understanding that wives are the property of their husbands and that the marriage contract is still an entitlement to sex (Russell, 1990)."
Source: Raquel Kennedy Bergen. "Marital Rape: New Research and Directions." VAWNET.com. pg. 2.
Marital rape is a crime under international law according to the UN General Assembly. Marital rape was specifically mentioned in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
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Questions About Marital Rape:
- What is marital rape?
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- Is marital rape a crime?
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- How can marital rape be reported?
- Are there physical and emotional consequences of marital rape?
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