Up until 1975, there were no laws against a person raping their spouse. For the most part, rapes are committed by men. And, under the common law, wives were the property of their husband and were, therefore, not allowed to refuse them sex. Over time, most states implemented laws that allowed for a wife or husband to charge their spouse with rape. However, these laws, especially in South Carolina, are still pretty loose.
In South Carolina, in order for a husband (or wife) to be convicted of rape against their spouse, the following rules apply:
- The rape must be committed with a weapon or with highly aggravated violence
- The rape must be report within thirty (30) days
- The maximum sentence is only ten (10) years. In cases of non-spousal rape, the sentence can be as high as 30 years
With the #MeToo movement, several states tried to repeal the spousal rape exceptions. Unfortunately, none of them passed. The justification the State uses for providing this exception is that the government should encourage families to stay together, not separate. Obviously, if someone is charged and convicted of spousal rape, they’ll likely separate or divorce. The State also says it can be very hard to prove that a spouse didn’t give consent, especially given the fact that they’ve had a relationship with their spouse for years or even decades.
Psychologists report that spousal rape can be very damaging for the victim. The fact that the laws require the perpetrator in a spousal rape to use a foreign object or force is demeaning. It tells people, especially women, that they have no rights.
If you wish to talk to a family law attorney about domestic violence, or simply wish to discuss a divorce, call our office right away.