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Wife Rape in Great Britian (From Women and Justice: Development of International Policy, P 135-164, 1999, Roslyn Muraskin, ed. -- See NCJ-180699)

NCJ Number
Kate Painter; David P. Farrington
Date Published
30 pages
This article presents the findings of the first national survey designed to investigate the phenomenon of "wife rape" in Great Britain.
In Great Britain, the view of a wife as the sexual and physical property of her husband remained unchallenged until 1949. It was not until 1976 that a statutory definition of rape as it concerns marital relations was passed. In 1992, the Law Commission recommended that a husband's legal immunity from prosecution for rape of his wife should be abolished and placed on a statutory footing. The survey showed that husbands were the most common category of rapists of married women, and once a husband raped his wife, the rapes occurred repeatedly. One in seven British wives had been raped but fewer than half considered that they had been raped at the time. Most wives suffered in silence, but the rapes had detrimental impacts emotionally, physically and psychologically. Wife rape, by definition, is a problem that exclusively troubles wives, but it must be interpreted in relation to wider issues of economic and sexual inequality which remain at the heart of British society. Effective social policies to prevent wife rape must deal with the cultural norms, attitudes and structural conditions which cause rape. Tables, notes, references, cases


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