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State legislators pass bill ending legal distinction for spousal rape

A bill authored by Bay Area legislators to end the legal distinction between spousal rape and rape is moving to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

Assembly Bill 1171 will bring parity to the state’s rape statutes by establishing the same standard for spousal rape that currently exists in the penal code for rape, the authors said in a news release issued Wednesday by the office of state Sen. Dave Cortese, D-San Jose.

The bill was authored by Assemblymembers Evan Low, D-San Jose, and Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, with Cortese listed as principal co-author.

Garcia said:

“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.”

An estimated 10-14 percent of married women have experienced rape by their spouses, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Cortese said:

“The idea that marital rape should be punished less severely is absurd and this legal loophole can’t continue to be ignored.” 

California is one of nine states that distinguishes “spousal rape” from “rape,” according to the news release. Idaho and Ohio have also recently passed spousal rape reform bills.

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