Author: Kebkab Sirgew Gelaw
International Human Rights Lawyer
The concept of rape of a woman by her husband in marriage was not a transgression at all because a man was allowed to treat ‘his chattel as he deemed appropriate’; thus, women who were forced to have sex in their marriage did not even have the option of seeking criminal prosecution. The first marital rape case to reach the US court system took place in 1978 in New Jersey, when Daniel Morrison was found guilty of raping his estranged wife. Six months later, in Oregon, John Rideout became the first husband charged with rape while living with his wife. Rideout was acquitted and brought attention to the concept that rape can exist within the context of marriage.
Many states in the US including Minnesota at that time defended forced sexual intercourse committed by a man against a woman and not his wife; though there have been subsequent prosecutions of marital rape, but in general, the cases were charged to win, primary because the question of consent is clouded by societal beliefs about marriage.
About the Author:
Kebkab Sirgew Gelaw (LL.B, MA, LL.M) is a senior legal researcher with more than 10 years of work experience in the field of law and International Human Rights. Kebkab has served in various Executive and Leadership positions. She also worked as a part time lecturer at the School of Law and Governance Studies at Addis Ababa University and others.
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