Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


Theresa Fus

First Page



Even though many countries still permit husbands to rape their wives with little or no consequence, there is a growing trend that marital exemption is unjust and has no place in a civilized society. Recognition of the inappropriateness of marital exemption is, however, only the first step towards its elimination. To effectively equalize treatment of marital and non-marital rape, legislatures and judiciaries must take action. Several countries have already been host to the abolition of marital immunity, but their approaches may not be the most effective. This Note examines the experiences of England and Canada as examples of judicial and legislative abolition of marital exemption, respectively. The Author explores several factors that would lead to effective change, including timely alignment with societal morals, thorough and thoughtful consideration of the issues, and legitimacy in the eyes of citizens. After reviewing the effectiveness of approaches such as those employed in England and Canada, the Author argues that an even better method would rely on equal protection provisions found in state constitutions and international treaties.