Marital rape and sexual assault are crimes: The legislation should expressly state that marital rape and sexual assault are crimes and that there is no exception for, or defence of marriage in any circumstance.
‘Marital rape immunity’ remains in the law of some Commonwealth jurisdictions either as a blanket exemption or as a defence in limited circumstances, such as if force is used or the parties are judicially separated or divorced. Many countries simply do not address marital rape in their legislation at all.
Marital rape immunity is based on the outdated belief that wives cannot be raped because at marriage they consented to all sexual acts with their husband. This view is discriminatory on the grounds of sex and marital status and denies women their fundamental right to autonomy and bodily integrity and to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. It treats wives as male property.
Many countries around the world, including in the Commonwealth, have abolished this exemption legislatively or by jurisprudence. The common law and national case law are not assessed in this research and to meet the good practice standards applied here, legislation should state that marital rape and sexual assault, including of married children, are crimes and that there is no exception for, or defence of marriage to these offences.