Ohio bill to make marital rape illegal gets no support from state Republicans

Loophole means prosecutors seeking rape convictions must prove 'force or the threat of force' if a spouse is attacked

Jon Sharman
Monday 27 February 2017 11:59 GMT
It's the second time Ms Johnson has sought to get the law passed
It's the second time Ms Johnson has sought to get the law passed (Ohio State Bar Association/YouTube)

A proposed law that would make it illegal for husbands to drug and rape their wives has found no backers among Republicans in Ohio.

The bill is the second introduced by Democrat state representative Greta Johnson to address the “unacceptable” loophole in Ohio law that means prosecutors must prove there was “force or the threat of force” for a sexual attack by a husband or wife to be considered rape.

Cases in which the spouse is drugged do not qualify for prosecution, Ms Johnson said.

Her first effort, in 2015, failed at the committee stage in the Republican-controlled house of representatives.

That year, Ohio was one of 13 states whose legal system still treated rape within marriage differently.

Ms Johnson, a former prosecutor herself, said: “I am appalled that there is not a larger discussion in our state about this issue. I am deeply disappointed that none of my Republican colleagues signed on as co-sponsors to this bill.

"Protecting victims of sexual assault and rape should have nothing to do with partisan affiliation.

“We must modernise Ohio’s laws and eradicate unacceptable policy that allows someone to commit violence against their spouse.

“Women and men experiencing sexual violence at the hands of their spouses should not be denied the right to seek justice just because they happen to be married to the offender.”

A spokesman for the Ohio house speaker, Cliff Rosenberger, told the the Beacon Journal: “I know the speaker hasn’t had a chance to review anything with this bill or the caucus. Most of this is really early in the process in terms of what might happen next.”

But it was “correct” that Republicans often co-sponsor other bills before they are introduced, the spokesman added.

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