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House votes to repeal Idaho law granting exception to spousal rape

Posted at 11:25 AM, Apr 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-13 10:01:21-04

BOISE, Idaho — In a unanimous vote, a bill passed Wednesday repeals part of Idaho law called spousal rape which provided exceptions to the criminal definition of rape based on the relationship of the parties, where previously those actions were illegal outside of marriage.

According to the National Resource Center on Domestic violence, about 10 to 14 percent of married women in the United States are raped by their husbands and approximately one-third of women have reported having 'unwanted sex' with their partner.

"By repealing those exceptions, a spouse can bring a case against a spouse for rape,” The Women's and Children's Alliance CEO Bea Black said.

“If you are in an ongoing relationship especially one that you are married and has a contract and in particular if you have a domineering spouse or an abusive spouse the risk for this crime is much greater,” Sen. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise said.

Wintrow drafted the legislation after someone reached out to her saying they were directly impacted by the part of Idaho law.

Sen. Wintrow on SB1089

In 1977 exemptions to rape based on marriage were first introduced in Idaho, then altered over time.

“If the mindset is, 'well you're married how could it possibly have been rape?' Then I think that would also be a reason why an individual would not reach out for help. If you don't think you're going to get help, why would you reach out in the first place? This is not something you would necessarily feel good about talking about.”
CEO of WCA Bea Black

“As times change, so do attitudes and values; our laws should reflect those changing values. The unanimous vote speaks loudly that no one should be given a pass to commit a crime based on a relationship for actions that are otherwise criminal,” Wintrow said.

The bill now moves to the governor's desk for consideration. Here is a list of bills already signed by Little.

If you need resources for dealing with sexual assault, call the WCA 24/7 hotline at 208-345-7273.