Module 4
Statutory Constraints

Legal Rationales

Although the complete marital rape exemption has now been eliminated in state, federal, and military law, this was an extremely slow evolution that began in 1976 and extended over several decades, and a few states retain partial immunity, described later in this module.

Three legal rationales were offered for the complete marital rape exemption:

  • The property theory
  • The unity theory
  • The ongoing consent theory

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