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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".The lawfulness of the conjugal act itself was understood as a logical consequence of a lawful marriage.Following this logic, if consent is not part of marriage, then it is not necessary for intercourse.

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.

In the US, the wife's legal subordination to her husband was fully ended by the case of Kirchberg v. English common law also had a great impact on many legal systems of the world through colonialism. Marriage was traditionally understood as an institution where a husband had control over his wife's life; control over her sexuality was only a part of the greater control that he had in all other areas concerning her.

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.

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.

This was illustrated most vividly by Sir Matthew Hale, (1609-1676), in his legal treatise Historia Placitorum Coronæ or History of the Pleas of the Crown (posthumously, 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." Sir Matthew Hale's statement in History of the Pleas of the Crown did not cite any legal precedent though it likely relied on earlier standards.

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.

Following this line of logic, a woman was (and still is in many cultures across the globe) first the property of her father, then, upon marriage, the property of her husband (Bergen, 2016).

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