By: Lessa Leigh
Imagine you’re married, and you and your spouse are going through a rough patch. You’re not really interested in having sex with your spouse for whatever reason, and if your spouse forced you to have sex against your will, that would be considered rape. Right?
Wrong. If you live in Ohio and your spouse drugs you and has sex with you without your prior consent, that is not considered rape. Nifty, huh? Apparently, if you’re passed out and married, there’s no “force” involved according to Ohio statutes. While much of this is framed as “husband (rapist) and wife (victim)”, marriage equality in its current form applies to either spouse, so same sex spouses or wives acting against husbands would fall into play here.
Two Democratic state legislators, both women, have proposed a law that would prevent this loophole for spousal rape. Raise your hand if you’re surprised to learn that no Republicans have stepped up to co-sign the bill and that previous bills have gotten crickets from the state GOP.
Because Ohio is regressive in all policies regarding women’s rights, there’s an added wrinkle within the laws on the books. In Ohio, if you are raped and then conceive through rape (sorry, Republican men, but women can’t just “shut it down” at will on the baby-making) and then choose to keep the fetus to term and have a baby, you can’t remove the rapist’s paternal rights unless you successfully win a conviction against him in court. That’s right. One of the most difficult crimes to successfully prosecute for any number of reasons must be adjudicated in a court of law, if you never want to see your rapist’s face again.
However, the tricky wrinkle is in the spousal rape case because women, who are impregnated through rape, can’t claim rape if their spouse drugged them. Going back to the imaginary marriage, how difficult is it to see a scenario where a husband rapes his wife and impregnates her without her consent and then forces her to not only have the baby but then prevents her from protecting the child from an abusive father? It’s a real scenario, and if you’re married in Ohio, you might want to look twice at your spouse.