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rape statute that applies only to women perpetuates the idea that rape is a sexual act. Legislators in particular should dis card the badly mistaken notion that rape has any connection with sexual gratificationit is, rather, a very ugly, unsexy crime of violence moti vated by hostility and rage, not sexual passion. And that is what our laws should consider it to be. cover extramarital sex which occurs after a divorce is first sought. In the 1976 case, Mrs. Bell began seeing a male friend after she and her husband, Dr. Bell. filed for divorce. When Dr. Bell learned about the new relationship. he made a further claim that Mrs. Bell’s sexual activity after the filing of the divorce petition contributed to the breakup. The appellate court agreed with him and held that any sexual intercourse before the divorce is final amounts to adultery and so is justification for an unequal division of the community property. Because a contested divorce case can drag on for up to three years, this ruling means that parties to a divorce cannot safely maintain any social life before the divorce is final, and all friends of either party should be careful lest they proceedings. Just as in an alienation-of-affection suit, a petition naming the other spouse’s friends as adulterers will substantially accelerate the tempo of a divorce proceeding. All divorce lawyers know that charging the other spouse’s friends with adultery will cause them to pressure the spouse into a quick and costly divorce settlement. No friend, after all, wants to take the stand to affirm or even deny adultery. Rep. Bob Eckhardt’s wife used this tactic to advantage right in the middle of his 1976 re-election bid. Her petition named four women as corespondents. \(Remember: pleadings are official court records and are never denot be sued for libel for allegations in a petition, unscrupulous parties can charge adultery even without proof. Adultery as a ground for divorce should be abolished. Rape Few crimes evoke as much public emotion as rape does, yet the nature of the crime is little understood, and an underlying, almost salacious suspicion is widespread that the victim is somehow culpable. Legislators in particular should discard the badly mistaken notion that rape has any connection with sexual gratificationit is, rather, a very ugly, unsexy crime of violence motivated by hostility and rage, not sexual passion. And that is what our laws should consider it to be. Realizing that the term “rape” is loaded with emotional connotations, the legislatures of several states have scrapped it altogether; instead, their statutes refer to the crime as sexual abuse, sexual battery, sexual assault, criminal sexual conduct, or gross sexual imposition. Many lawyers feel that Texas should follow suit, but whether the label is changed or not, the definition of the crime should be broadened in two impor should have no immunity from rape be defined in gender-neutral terms. Immunities. As the Texas rape statute now reads, neither a husband nor a livein boyfriend can be charged with rape or even aggravated rape. Just for a moment, let’s look back at how we got in this mess. At least until very recent times, women have been considered property whose primary purpose was to reproduce legitimate children and continue the male line. Once a woman’s father gave her in marriage, she had no right to withhold consent to sexual intercourse with her husband. Therefore, at common law a man could not be charged with the rape of his wife. Even now, a husband cannot even be charged with the aggravated rape of his wife. This immunity is simply indefensible and ought to be eliminated, since the crime here is rape plus serious bodily injury, attempted murder, or threat of injury, death or kidnapping. Yet, incredibly, Texas has been going backward on the rape issue. In 1973. a time when reform sentiment was bubbling in the Texas Legislature, the immunity from prosecution for rape and aggravated rape was extended to live-in boy friends. In the process of rewriting the state’s penal code, legislators found that a great many people were living together with no wedding plans. It may have been broad-minded of them to recognize the trend and give it some sort of legal blessing, but it was wrong-headed in the extreme to decide, as they did, that the woman-as-property theory would henceforth apply to these new relationships as well as marriage. There is no logic supporting the boyfriend immunity. None of the sanctityof-marriage arguments apply. It is sometimes argued that rape by a boyfriend is difficult to prove, but the problems of proof here are no worse than those that arise when a person accuses a friend of stealing. In either case, the argument for the accused is generally that the thing taken was freely given. Besides, just because the proof problems are sizable is no justification for extending immunity. The most common defense of the boyfriend immunity is that it prevents vindictive women from running to the police with rape charges every time their lovers leave them. This is an absurd argument grounded in ignorance. In the first place, because of the trauma of rape, the attitudes of the public about it, and private feelings of shame by the victim, very few rapes get reported, much less ones that never happened. Second, any charge of rape must be vigorously substantiated before it will lead to convictionexactly the same procedures and legal evidence would be required to convict a boyfriend of rape as to convict a stranger. Then there are husbands. Texas now makes only one exception to its marriage-immunity rape lawsif a husband helps another man rape his wife charged as an accomplice and subjected to the same punishment for rape as the principal. Otherwise, husbands can be as sexually abusive as they want without fear of prosecution. Let’s start with the grossest application of this immunity: even when a couple is legally separated or in the midst of divorce proceedings, the husband still cannot be prosecuted in Texas for raping his wife. Even the most conservative of women find this outrageous. At last year’s International Women’s Year Conference held in Houston, the minority report submitted by the anti-ERA forces deplored education and employment quotas for women, regretted sexual integration of physical education classes, rejected the idea of paying for a wife’s social security fund, and generally opposed every aspect of women’s rightsbut their report agreed with the proposition that a husband should not be allowed to force sex on his wife after separation or divorce proceedings have begun. Eighteen states with marriage immunity laws do not protect a husband from rape charges once the marriage has begun to THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13