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In a case of Lord Audley's (1488-1544), for instance, his citation of the jurist Bracton (c. 1268) supports this rule, said to have derived from laws of King Æthelstan (r.
927-939) where upon the law holds that even "were the party of no chaste life, but a whore, yet there may be ravishment: but it is a good plea to say she was his concubine".
Most countries criminalized marital rape from the late 20th century onward—very few legal systems allowed for the prosecution of rape within marriage before the 1970s.
Criminalization has occurred through various ways, including removal of statutory exemptions from the definitions of rape, judicial decisions, explicit legislative reference in statutory law preventing the use of marriage as a defense, or creating of a specific offense of marital rape.
This view was described by Sir Matthew Hale (1609-1676) in History of the Pleas of the Crown, published posthumously in 1736, where he wrote that "The husband cannot be guilty of a rape committed by himself upon his lawful wife, for by their mutual consent and contract the wife hath given up herself in this kind unto her husband, which she cannot retract".
Also, American and English law subscribed until the 20th century to the system of coverture, that is, a legal doctrine under which, upon marriage, a woman's legal rights were subsumed by those of her husband. 455 (1981), a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held a Louisiana Head and Master law, which gave sole control of marital property to the husband, unconstitutional.
However, if another man raped someone's wife, this was essentially stealing property (a women's sexuality) (Bergen, 2016).
Marital rape (or spousal rape) is the act of sexual intercourse with one's spouse without the spouse's consent.
It is a form of domestic violence and sexual abuse.
The issues of sexual and domestic violence within marriage and the family unit, and more specifically, the issue of violence against women, have come to growing international attention from the second half of the 20th century.
Still, in many countries, marital rape either remains outside the criminal law, or is illegal but widely tolerated.