Decades after all 50 states had laws making marital rape a crime, many still have loopholes of the sort that Minnesota closed last week with a new law focused on rapes that happen when a partner is drugged, unconscious or otherwise incapacitated, the Associated Press reports. Other loopholes are related to age, relationship, use of force or the nature of the penetration. Some impose short timeframes for victims to report spousal rape. Legislative attempts to end or modify those exemptions have a mixed record but have received renewed attention in the #MeToo era.
In Ohio, determined opponents plan to re-introduce a marital rape bill this month, after two earlier attempts failed. Former lawmaker and prosecutor Greta Johnson said having to address whether a woman was married to her attacker as part of sexual assault prosecutions struck her as “appalling and archaic.” “Certainly, there was a marital exemption lifted years ago, but it was just for what in the prosecutorial world we call the force element — by force or threat of force,” she said. Nearly 9% of women and 0.8% of men have been raped by an intimate partner, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National surveys have placed the percentage of women raped within marriage between 10% and 14%.