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Rape Laws: Outdated Legislation Here And Abroad

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In the U.S., most rapists never see jail time. This is due to a variety of factors, including a lack of reporting, poor handling of rape kits, and laws that seem to blame victims rather than assailants for their assaults.

Rape culture is a major topic of conversation on social media, and many activist groups are working to make sure that as a culture, we teach “do not rape” instead of “don’t get raped.”

However, the U.S. has a lot of work to do to make sure that legislation supports rape victims. Despite the fact that raping your spouse was legal in the U.S. as late as 1993, several states have loopholes in their respective rape laws that prevent victims from seeking justice.

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Distinguishing Between Married And Single

Some state laws differentiate between rapes that were committed by the victim’s spouse and rapes that were committed by someone other than the victim’s spouse. The following states have rape laws that indicate different sentence times and evidence requirements for the same rape committed by different people.

  • South Carolina: Marital rape has a maximum sentence of 10 years, while non-marital rape can carry a sentence of up to 30 years.
  • Maryland: If a couple is separated, the defendant does not have to prove force was used. If the couple is still together, they do.
  • Connecticut: If a spouse rapes their spouse by drugging them, this offense is not considered as serious as forcible rape, and the assailant may receive a lighter prison sentence.

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Rape By Deception

Rape by deception is defined as sexual consent that only occurs because the victim was deceived. This type of rape is broken down into two categories: fraud in the factum and fraud in the inducement.

Rape by fraud in the factum takes place when a victim is made to believe that an activity that is not classified as sexual intercourse is going to take place, and sexual intercourse takes place instead.

An example of this would be if a doctor tells a patient that he is going to insert an instrument into the genitals or anus of the patient, and the patient consents, but then the doctor inserts his penis into the patient.

Rape by fraud in the inducement takes place when the perpetrator pretends to be someone else and gains consent under the false identity of another person.

For instance, if a woman falls asleep and her boyfriend gets up to use the restroom, a strange man could enter the room and initiate sex with her in the dark. If the woman consents to sex with him because she believes it is her boyfriend returning from the bathroom, this would be rape by fraud in the inducement.

The following states either do not have laws in place to criminalize rape by deception, or the conditions of the law limit what acts can be called rapes by deception:

  • Hawaii: rape by coercion is an offense in Hawaii but rape by fraud or deception is not.
  • Massachusetts: a recent statute to include rape by fraud in state legislation was voted down because the definition of rape by fraud was considered “too broad.”
  • Texas: calls rape by fraud “sexual assault” instead of rape.
  • Virginia: calls rape by fraud “sexual battery” instead of rape.
  • New York: has legislation against “sexual misconduct,” not rape, that includes fraud in the factum and inducement.
  • Louisiana: has a law that states that rape by fraud by inducement only occurs if the perpetrator is pretending to be the victim’s husband. Therefore, if a rape by fraud in the inducement occurs to a woman who believes the perpetrator is her boyfriend, she cannot file a case against the defendant claiming rape by fraud in the inducement since the perpetrator was not pretending to be her husband.

Unfortunately, while these laws qualify the level of trauma a victim suffers by factors that should not matter (such as whether or not the victim was married, and the intricate details of how a person was tricked into intercourse), rape laws in other countries are even more archaic than those listed above.

Rape Laws From Other Countries

  • In Jordan, a rapist may evade any and all penalties if he marries his victim. This has resulted in many forced marriages that some say protect the victims from being killed for being non-virgins out of wedlock.
  • In Afghanistan, a man has the right to have sex with his wife, as long as she is not ill, every fourth night. This law legalizes marital rape under these conditions.
  • Marital rape is still legal in India.

While rape laws in other countries make America look like we’re ahead of the curve with regard to rape legislation, the judicial system should always be seeking the best ways to protect victims of sexual assault and rape, and to prevent future sexual assaults and rapes from occurring in the first place.

If you have been affected by sexual assault, you can and should seek legal council. A confidential consultation is available here.

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