Friday, March 11, 2005

When is a rape not a rape?

Apparently when the perpetrator is the victim's spouse.

Wow. I mean... wow. I didn't even know spousal rape was seen as less of a crime in the eyes of the law. What possible logic could defend this?

After reading about this this morning, I was so angry I wasn't even coherent. After taking several hours to calm down, I wrote the following letter to the House Committee on Human Services and my own senator and two representitives. It is significantly toned down from how I really feel about this, but hopefully it will get the point across.

To the members of the House Committee on Human Services (and to my District 30 representatives and senator):

I am writing to you in regards to SB 1040 regarding spousal rape, which was assigned to your committee and then failed there.

I am extremely disappointed that Representatives Allen, Anderson, Knaperek, and Nichols voted against this bill. It seems to me common sense that rape is rape. The fact that the victim is married to the perpetrator should not make it less a crime. As a married woman, I am horrified by the idea that in the eyes of the law it would be more acceptable for my husband to attack me than a complete stranger. Particularly disturbing were Rep. Nichols' comments as quoted in the Arizona Daily Star:

"When you enter into a marriage, you enter into a contract for all sorts of different things with your spouse," including sex, he said.

Since the "including sex" was paraphrased and not a direct quote, I would like to give Rep. Nichols the benefit of the doubt that he was misinterpreted. Surely Mr. Nichols is not saying that the wedding vows include either spouse giving up the right to say no. I know I said no such thing in my vows and am appalled that such a thing could even be implied.

Women -- and men -- have the right to say no to sex. Whenever they want. To whomever they want. Including their spouses. How could it possibly be less of a betrayal to the victim when the perpetrator is someone who is supposed to be the person she trusts most in the world?

I am not afraid for myself; it would never even occur to my husband to violate me in such a way. There are many women, however, who are not as fortunate. Domestic violence is a huge problem in our state and in our country. How can we fight against it if we then say that one of the most vicious and psychologically damaging forms of abuse is not considered a serious crime when committed by one's spouse? What does that tell the woman trying to escape an abusive home? That she deserved to be rape because she's married to her attacker?

Please reconsider this important legislation.


At 2:19 PM, Blogger the-unintentional-blogger said... I know where you got those comments from that you left in my blog!

I STILL want to know what constitutes burden of proof in a spousal rape case. I think there is such potential for false accusations and this would make the stakes even higher. I would just like to be assured that we will not be putting away husbands based solely on "he said, she said".

Don't try to label me as a supporter of rape. I blogged about this and I think rape is such a horrendous violation of a woman and should be dealt with in the strongest terms.

I guess the reason I feel strongly about this is because of my career. As an educator, if I even were to be ACCUSSED of something like this, my career and method of financial stability would be over like that. Althought I NEVER worry about that with my spouse, I worry about that happening to others.

I've said before that I probably would support the bill, but I think the objections are valid objections.

At 7:25 PM, Blogger Bad Methodist said...

Here's why I don't think the objections are valid at all. As I understand it, what this law does is change the level of crime charged, which means when it really matters is the penalty phase. I don't see how having spousal rape a lesser crime as it is now will either make it less likely for someone to make a false accusation or make it more likely they'll be convicted. But IF someone is convicted of raping his spouse, he should go to jail for the same amount of time as he would for raping anyone else. Anything less is saying "It's not really rape if it's his wife." If the jury has already decided it was rape, let the penalty be for rape, not some lesser crime.

At 6:33 PM, Anonymous the_methotaku said...

All of the lawmakers set off my stupid sense, but Rep. Laura Knaperek gets a special mention for being a woman and supporting this bill anyway.


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