Home California Bill to End Spousal Rape Distinction Heads to Governor’s Desk

Bill to End Spousal Rape Distinction Heads to Governor’s Desk

by ECT

California State Assemblymembers voted overwhelmingly on Concurrence in favor of modernizing and equalizing California’s spousal rape law.

The bill, AB 1171, that has Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) and Senator Dave Cortese (D-Silicon Valley) as principal co-authors, was passed out of the California Assembly and the Senate with wide bipartisan support. The bill now awaits Governor Newsom’s signature.

AB 1171 will bring parity to California’s rape statutes by requiring the same standards for “spousal rape” that is currently in the penal code for rape. The bill eliminates the “spousal rape exception” in the California Penal Code (Section 262) to ensure that “spousal rape” is treated and punished, as seriously as the rape of a non-spouse. Although “spousal rape” is illegal in all 50 states, California is one of nine states that distinguishes “spousal rape” from “rape.” Idaho and Ohio have recently passed Spousal Rape reform bills.

While we rarely use the term “spousal rape” when discussing the crime of rape–the act is common. In fact, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), between 10-14% of married women have been or may experience rape by their spouse. Additionally, 18% of these victims state their children have witnessed the rape.

The bill is being supported by California National Organization for Women, Feminist Majority, Enough Is Enough Voter Project, and several California District Attorneys including Los Angeles County DA, George Gascon, San Joaquin County DA, Tori Verber Salazar, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, Contra Costa County DA, Diane Becton, and Santa Clara County DA, Jeff Rosen.

Rape is rape, regardless of the relationship between the rapist and a victim,” says co-author Senator Dave Cortese (D-San Jose). “The idea that marital rape should be punished less severely is absurd and this legal loophole can’t continue to be ignored.”

He added, “We must put a swift end to this archaic distinction once and for all. This bill is not only about leveling the law, it is about preventing this type of sexual abuse from occurring and promoting safety and respect for all.”

A strong coalition of woman’s justice advocates and reform minded prosecutors joined bill author and Chair of Legislative Woman’s Caucus Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D- Bell Gardens) in celebrating the overwhelming vote,

From the beginning of our efforts, we have been clear that rape is rape. And a marriage license is not an excuse for committing one of society’s most violent and sadistic crimes. AB 1171 will put the power of law to help enforce that truth!” said Assemblymember Garcia.

The first question a rape victim is asked should not be whether or not they are married. Rape is rape,” concluded Garcia.

Senator Dave Cortese represents State Senate District 15 which encompasses most of Santa Clara County, including the cities of Campbell, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Saratoga, Monte Sereno, and much of San Jose, stretching from the Santa Cruz Mountains to the west and Mountain Hamilton Range to the east.

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