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Social Psychology, "Marital Rape Exemptions," and Privacy

NCJ Number
Behavioral Sciences and the Law Volume: 8 Issue: 2 Dated: (Spring 1990) Pages: 141-149
M A Small; P A Tetreault
Date Published
9 pages
The 50 United States vary greatly in their legal handling of marital rape.
Many feminists define rape as any forced sexual activity, but many persons, including some rape victims, believe this does not apply in cases where there is a relationship between the offender and the victim. Traditionally, the marital rape exemption prevented prosecution of husbands for the rape of their wives, but as the nature of the marital relationship has changed, so has the legal thinking on the nature of marital sexual activity. Twenty-four States have completely abolished the marital rape exemption; 20 grant partial or limited exemptions, and three grant the exemption explicitly. Twenty-three States allow qualified exemptions dependent on partners' cohabitational status. Social science efforts have challenged some of the myths concerning the nature of rape, and how it translates into law. Among values important to the legal system, privacy plays a key role. Note, table, appendix, 32 references. (Author abstract modified)


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