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Human Rights Watch would like to thank all of the survivors of sexual violence, former offenders and their families, social workers, advocates, law enforcement officials, and attorneys who shared their experiences and perspective with us for this report.

We are especially grateful to those who trusted us with very painful and personal stories. Corinne Carey, former researcher for the US Program, undertook the original research for this report. Ian Gorvin, deputy director of the Program Office, and Aisling Reidy, senior legal counsel, edited the report. Robert Prentky, and Dr.

Levenson for providing guidance and insights in helping us to shape the research and writing of this report. Wetterling also reviewed the report. Human Rights Watch would also like to thank Peter B. What happened to nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford is every parent's worst nightmare. In February she was abducted from her home in Florida, raped, and buried alive by a stranger, a next-door neighbor who had been twice convicted of molesting children.

Over the past decade, several horrific crimes like Jessica's murder have captured massive media attention and fueled widespread fears that children are at high risk of assault by repeat sex offenders. Politicians have responded with a series of laws, including the sex offender registration, community notification, and residency restriction laws that are the subject of this report. Federal law and the laws of all 50 states now require adults and some juveniles convicted of specified crimes that involve sexual conduct to register with law enforcement-regardless of whether the crimes involved children.

So-called "Megan's Laws" establish public access to registry information, primarily by mandating the creation of online registries that provide a former offender's criminal history, current photograph, current address, and other information such as place of employment.

In many states everyone who is required to register is included on the online registry. A growing number of states and municipalities have also prohibited registered offenders from living within a designated distance typically to 2, feet of places where children gather-for example, schools, playgrounds, and daycare centers.

Human Rights Watch appreciates the sense of concern and urgency that has prompted these laws. They reflect a deep public yearning for safety in a world that seems increasingly threatening. Every child has the right to live free from violence and sexual abuse.

Promoting public safety by holding offenders accountable and by instituting effective crime prevention measures is a core governmental obligation. Unfortunately, our research reveals that sex offender registration, community notification, and residency restriction laws are ill-considered, poorly crafted, and may cause more harm than good: The evidence is overwhelming, as detailed in this report, that these laws cause great harm to the people subject to them.

On the other hand, proponents of these laws are not able to point to convincing evidence of public safety gains from them. Even assuming some public safety benefit, however, the laws can be reformed to reduce their adverse effects without compromising that benefit. Registration laws should be narrowed in scope and duration. Publicly accessible online registries should be eliminated, and community notification should be accomplished solely by law enforcement officials.

Blanket residency restrictions should be abolished. Proponents of sex offender registration and community notification believe they protect children in two ways: Advocates for residency restrictions believe they will limit offenders' access to children and their temptation or ability to commit new crimes.

While these beliefs may seem intuitively correct, they are predicated on several widely shared but nonetheless mistaken premises. Given these faulty underpinnings, it is not surprising that there is little evidence that the laws have in fact reduced the threat of sexual abuse to children or others.

Sex offender laws are based on preventing the horrific crimes that inspired them-but the abduction, rape, and murder of a child by a stranger who is a previously convicted sex offender is a rare event. The laws offer scant protection for children from the serious risk of sexual abuse that they face from family members or acquaintances. Indeed, people children know and trust are responsible for over 90 percent of sex crimes against them. In addition, sex offender laws are predicated on the widespread assumption that most people convicted of sex offenses will continue to commit such crimes if given the opportunity.

Some politicians cite recidivism rates for sex offenders that are as high as percent. In fact, most three out of four former sex offenders do not reoffend and most sex crimes are not committed by former offenders.

Patty Wetterling, a prominent child safety advocate who founded the Jacob Wetterling Foundation after her son was abducted in , recently told Human Rights Watch,. I based my support of broad-based community notification laws on my assumption that sex offenders have the highest recidivism rates of any criminal.

But the high recidivism rates I assumed to be true do not exist. It has made me rethink the value of broad-based community notification laws, which operate on the assumption that most sex offenders are high-risk dangers to the community they are released into. The justifications offered for sex offender laws focus on sexually violent offenders. Yet people who have not committed violent or coercive offenses may nonetheless be required to register as sex offenders and be subject to community notification and residency restrictions.

For example, in many states, people who urinate in public, teenagers who have consensual sex with each other, adults who sell sex to other adults, and kids who expose themselves as a prank are required to register as sex offenders. Brandon was a senior in high school when he met a year-old girl on a church youth trip. With her parents' blessing, they began to date, and openly saw each other romantically for almost a year. When it was disclosed that consensual sexual contact had occurred, her parents pressed charges against Brandon and he was convicted of sexual assault and placed on the sex offender registry in his state.

As a result, Brandon was fired from his job. He will be on the registry and publicly branded as a sex offender for the rest of his life. In his mother's words, "I break down in tears several times a week.

I know there are violent sexual predators that need to be punished, but this seems like punishment far beyond reasonable for what my son did.

The over-breadth in scope is matched by over-breadth in duration: Indeed, legislators are steadily increasing the duration of registration requirements: Yet former sex offenders are less and less likely to reoffend the longer they live offense-free. Unfortunately, only a few states require or permit periodic individualized assessments of the risk to the community a former offender may pose before requiring initial or continued registration and community notification.

If former offenders simply had to register their whereabouts with the police, the adverse consequences for them would be minimal.

But online sex offender registries brand everyone listed on them with a very public "scarlet letter" that signifies not just that they committed a sex offense in the past, but that by virtue of that fact they remain dangerous. With only a few exceptions, states do not impose any "need to know" limitations on who has access to the registrant's information. With a national registry including every state registrant's online profile due to be complete by , information about previously convicted sex offenders will be available to anyone anywhere in the country, without restriction.

Most registries simply indicate the statutory name of the crime of which a person was convicted, for example, "indecent liberties with a child. When people see my picture on the state sex offender registry they assume I am a pedophile. I have been called a baby rapist by my neighbors; feces have been left on my driveway; a stone with a note wrapped around it telling me to "watch my back" was thrown through my window, almost hitting a guest.

What the registry doesn't tell people is that I was convicted at age 17 of sex with my year-old girlfriend, that I have been offense-free for over a decade, that I have completed my therapy, and that the judge and my probation officer didn't even think I was at risk of reoffending. My life is in ruins, not because I had sex as a teenager, and not because I was convicted, but because of how my neighbors have reacted to the information on the internet.

Former offenders included on online sex offender registries endure shattered privacy, social ostracism, diminished employment and housing opportunities, harassment, and even vigilante violence.

Their families suffer as well. Registrants and their families have been hounded from their homes, had rocks thrown through their home windows, and feces left on their front doorsteps. They have been assaulted, stabbed, and had their homes burned by neighbors or strangers who discovered their status as a previously convicted sex offender.

At least four registrants have been targeted and killed two in and two in by strangers who found their names and addresses through online registries. Other registrants have been driven to suicide, including a teenager who was required to register after he had exposed himself to girls on their way to gym class.

Violence directed at registrants has injured others. The children of sex offenders have been harassed by their peers at school, and wives and girlfriends of offenders have been ostracized from social networks and at their jobs.

Among laws targeting sex offenders living in the community, residency restrictions may be the harshest as well as the most arbitrary. The laws can banish registrants from their already established homes, keep them from living with their families, and make entire towns off-limits to them, forcing them to live in isolated rural areas. For example, former sex offenders in Miami, Florida have been living under bridges, one of the few areas not restricted for them by the residency restriction laws of that city.

There is no evidence that prohibiting sex offenders from living near where children gather will protect children from sexual violence. Indeed, the limited research to date suggests the contrary: A study by the Minnesota Department of Corrections found that individuals who committed another sex crime against a child made contact with their victim through a social relationship.

Moreover, the laws apply to all registered sex offenders regardless of whether their prior crimes involved children. It is hard to fathom what good comes from prohibiting a registered offender whose victim was an adult woman from living near a school bus stop. Stories of the senseless impact of residency restrictions are legion. For example, Georgia's residency restriction law has forced a year-old married woman to move from her home because it is too close to a daycare center.

She is registered as a sex offender because she had oral sex with a year-old when she was Some lawmakers admit to another purpose for residency restriction laws.

Georgia State House Majority Leader Jerry Keen, who sponsored the state's law banning registrants from living within 1, feet of places where children gather, stated during a floor debate, "My intent personally is to make [residency restrictions] so onerous on those that are convicted of [sex] offenses they will want to move to another state.

For those who do pose a threat to public safety, they should be able to reside in communities where they can receive the supervision and treatment they need, rather than be forced to move to isolated rural areas or become homeless. In most states, children age 18 and younger who are convicted of sex offenses can be subject to registration, community notification, and residency restrictions.

The recently passed federal Adam Walsh Act requires states to register children as young as Some of their offenses are indeed serious-for example, raping much younger children.

But children are also subjected to sex offender laws for conduct that, while frowned upon, does not suggest a danger to the community, including consensual sex, "playing doctor," and exposing themselves. Some of the conduct reflects the impulsiveness and perhaps difficulty with boundaries that many teenagers experience and that most will outgrow with maturity.

In some cases it seems nothing short of irrational to label children as sex offenders. Human Rights Watch spoke with a father whose year-old son was adjudicated for touching the genitals of his five-year-old cousin. He told us, "My son doesn't really understand what sex is, so it's hard to help him understand why he has to register as a sex offender. According to child development experts, many children move past the misdeeds of their youth, although some will require special support and treatment to do so.

Although there is little statistical research on recidivism by youth sex offenders, the studies that have been done suggest recidivism rates are quite low. For example, in one study only 4 percent of youth arrested for a sex crime recidivated.

Research also indicates that most adult offenders were not formerly youth offenders: Applying registration, community notification, and residency restriction laws to juvenile offenders does nothing to prevent crimes by the 90 percent of adults who were not convicted of sex offenses as juveniles.

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Sex Offender Laws in the US | HRW

They suffered epidemics and died in very large numbers, usually before large-scale European settlement began. Their societies were disrupted and hollowed out by the scale of deaths. Spanish explorers were the first Europeans with Christopher Columbus ' second expedition , to reach Puerto Rico on November 19, ; others reached Florida in In , Hernando de Soto undertook an extensive exploration of the Southeast.

The colony served as a barrier to expansion from New England. Despite being Calvinists and building the Reformed Church in America , the Dutch were tolerant of other religions and cultures. The colony, which was taken over by Britain in , left an enduring legacy on American cultural and political life.

This includes secular broad-mindedness and mercantile pragmatism in the city as well as rural traditionalism in the countryside typified by the story of Rip Van Winkle. Roosevelt , Eleanor Roosevelt and the Frelinghuysens. New France was the area colonized by France from to There were few permanent settlers outside Quebec and Acadia , but the French had far-reaching trading relationships with Native Americans throughout the Great Lakes and Midwest.

French villages along the Mississippi and Illinois rivers were based in farming communities that served as a granary for Gulf Coast settlements. They became American citizens in with the Louisiana Purchase. The strip of land along the eastern seacoast was settled primarily by English colonists in the 17th century along with much smaller numbers of Dutch and Swedes.

Colonial America was defined by a severe labor shortage that employed forms of unfree labor such as slavery and indentured servitude and by a British policy of benign neglect salutary neglect. Over half of all European immigrants to Colonial America arrived as indentured servants.

The first successful English colony, Jamestown , was established in on the James River in Virginia. Jamestown languished for decades until a new wave of settlers arrived in the late 17th century and established commercial agriculture based on tobacco. Between the late s and the Revolution, the British shipped an estimated 50, to , convicts to their American colonies.

New England was initially settled primarily by Puritans. The Pilgrims established a settlement in at Plymouth Colony , which was followed by the establishment of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in The Middle Colonies, consisting of the present-day states of New York , New Jersey , Pennsylvania , and Delaware , were characterized by a large degree of diversity. Sephardic Jews were among early settlers in cities of New England and the South.

Many immigrants arrived as religious refugees: Many royal officials and merchants were Anglicans. Religiosity expanded greatly after the First Great Awakening , a religious revival in the s led by preachers such as Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield. American Evangelicals affected by the Awakening added a new emphasis on divine outpourings of the Holy Spirit and conversions that implanted within new believers an intense love for God. Revivals encapsulated those hallmarks and carried the newly created evangelicalism into the early republic, setting the stage for the Second Great Awakening beginning in the late s.

Each of the 13 American colonies had a slightly different governmental structure. Typically, a colony was ruled by a governor appointed from London who controlled the executive administration and relied upon a locally elected legislature to vote taxes and make laws. By the 18th century, the American colonies were growing very rapidly as a result of low death rates along with ample supplies of land and food.

The colonies were richer than most parts of Britain, and attracted a steady flow of immigrants, especially teenagers who arrived as indentured servants. The tobacco and rice plantations imported African slaves for labor from the British colonies in the West Indies, and by the s African slaves comprised a fifth of the American population. The question of independence from Britain did not arise as long as the colonies needed British military support against the French and Spanish powers.

Those threats were gone by London regarded the American colonies as existing for the benefit of the mother country. This policy is known as mercantilism. An upper-class, with wealth based on large plantations operated by slave labor, and holding significant political power and even control over the churches, emerged in South Carolina and Virginia. A unique class system operated in upstate New York, where Dutch tenant farmers rented land from very wealthy Dutch proprietors, such as the Rensselaer family.

The other colonies were more equalitarian, with Pennsylvania being representative. By the midth century Pennsylvania was basically a middle-class colony with limited deference to its small upper-class. A writer in the Pennsylvania Journal in summed it up:. The People of this Province are generally of the middling Sort, and at present pretty much upon a Level.

They are chiefly industrious Farmers, Artificers or Men in Trade; they enjoy in are fond of Freedom, and the meanest among them thinks he has a right to Civility from the greatest. The French and Indian War —63 was a watershed event in the political development of the colonies. It was also part of the larger Seven Years' War.

The influence of the main rivals of the British Crown in the colonies and Canada, the French and North American Indians, was significantly reduced with the territory of the Thirteen Colonies expanding into New France both in Canada and the Louisiana Territory. Moreover, the war effort resulted in greater political integration of the colonies, as reflected in the Albany Congress and symbolized by Benjamin Franklin 's call for the colonies to "Join or Die".

Following Britain's acquisition of French territory in North America, King George III issued the Royal Proclamation of with the goal of organizing the new North American empire and protecting the native Indians from colonial expansion into western lands beyond the Appalachian Mountains. In ensuing years, strains developed in the relations between the colonists and the Crown.

The British Parliament passed the Stamp Act of , imposing a tax on the colonies without going through the colonial legislatures. The issue was drawn: Crying " No taxation without representation ", the colonists refused to pay the taxes as tensions escalated in the late s and early s. The Boston Tea Party in was a direct action by activists in the town of Boston to protest against the new tax on tea.

Parliament quickly responded the next year with the Coercive Acts , stripping Massachusetts of its historic right of self-government and putting it under army rule, which sparked outrage and resistance in all thirteen colonies.

Patriot leaders from all 13 colonies convened the First Continental Congress to coordinate their resistance to the Coercive Acts. The Congress called for a boycott of British trade , published a list of rights and grievances , and petitioned the king for redress of those grievances.

Ordinary folk became insurgents against the British even though they were unfamiliar with the ideological rationales being offered.

They were highly sensitive to the issue of tyranny, which they saw manifested in the arrival in Boston of the British Army to punish the Bostonians. This heightened their sense of violated rights, leading to rage and demands for revenge. They had faith that God was on their side. The American Revolutionary War began at Concord and Lexington in April when the British tried to seize ammunition supplies and arrest the Patriot leaders.

In terms of political values, the Americans were largely united on a concept called Republicanism , that rejected aristocracy and emphasized civic duty and a fear of corruption. For the Founding Fathers, according to one team of historians, "republicanism represented more than a particular form of government. It was a way of life, a core ideology, an uncompromising commitment to liberty, and a total rejection of aristocracy.

The Thirteen Colonies began a rebellion against British rule in and proclaimed their independence in as the United States of America. In the American Revolutionary War —83 the Americans captured the British invasion army at Saratoga in , secured the Northeast and encouraged the French to make a military alliance with the United States. France brought in Spain and the Netherlands, thus balancing the military and naval forces on each side as Britain had no allies.

General George Washington —99 proved an excellent organizer and administrator who worked successfully with Congress and the state governors, selecting and mentoring his senior officers, supporting and training his troops, and maintaining an idealistic Republican Army.

His biggest challenge was logistics, since neither Congress nor the states had the funding to provide adequately for the equipment, munitions, clothing, paychecks, or even the food supply of the soldiers. As a battlefield tactician, Washington was often outmaneuvered by his British counterparts. As a strategist, however, he had a better idea of how to win the war than they did.

The British sent four invasion armies. Washington's strategy forced the first army out of Boston in , and was responsible for the surrender of the second and third armies at Saratoga and Yorktown He limited the British control to New York City and a few places while keeping Patriot control of the great majority of the population. As the war ended, Washington watched proudly as the final British army quietly sailed out of New York City in November , taking the Loyalist leadership with them.

Washington astonished the world when, instead of seizing power for himself, he retired quietly to his farm in Virginia. In this sense, it was the first 'new nation'.

On July 2, , the Second Continental Congress , meeting in Philadelphia , declared the independence of the colonies by adopting the resolution from Richard Henry Lee , that stated:.

On July 4, they adopted the Declaration of Independence and this date is celebrated as the nation's birthday. Historian George Billias says:. Until this point, the nation was known as the "United Colonies of America" [53]. The new nation was founded on Enlightenment ideals of liberalism in what Thomas Jefferson called the unalienable rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", and dedicated strongly to republican principles. Republicanism emphasized the people are sovereign not hereditary kings , demanded civic duty, feared corruption, and rejected any aristocracy.

In the s the national government was able to settle the issue of the western territories, which were ceded by the states to Congress and became territories. With the migration of settlers to the Northwest, soon they became states. Nationalists worried that the new nation was too fragile to withstand an international war, or even internal revolts such as the Shays' Rebellion of in Massachusetts.

The delegates from every state wrote a new Constitution that created a much more powerful and efficient central government, one with a strong president, and powers of taxation. The new government reflected the prevailing republican ideals of guarantees of individual liberty and of constraining the power of government through a system of separation of powers.

The Congress was given authority to ban the international slave trade after 20 years which it did in A compromise gave the South Congressional apportionment out of proportion to its free population by allowing it to include three-fifths of the number of slaves in each state's total population.

This provision increased the political power of southern representatives in Congress, especially as slavery was extended into the Deep South through removal of Native Americans and transportation of slaves by an extensive domestic trade. To assuage the Anti-Federalists who feared a too-powerful national government, the nation adopted the United States Bill of Rights in Comprising the first ten amendments of the Constitution, it guaranteed individual liberties such as freedom of speech and religious practice, jury trials, and stated that citizens and states had reserved rights which were not specified.

The major accomplishments of the Washington Administration were creating a strong national government that was recognized without question by all Americans. Hamilton and Washington presented the country in with the Jay Treaty that reestablished good relations with Britain. The Jeffersonians vehemently protested, and the voters aligned behind one party or the other, thus setting up the First Party System.

Federalists promoted business, financial and commercial interests and wanted more trade with Britain. Republicans accused the Federalists of plans to establish a monarchy, turn the rich into a ruling class, and making the United States a pawn of the British. The Whiskey Rebellion in , when western settlers protested against a federal tax on liquor, was the first serious test of the federal government.

Washington called out the state militia and personally led an army, as the insurgents melted away and the power of the national government was firmly established. John Adams , a Federalist, defeated Jefferson in the election. War loomed with France and the Federalists used the opportunity to try to silence the Republicans with the Alien and Sedition Acts , build up a large army with Hamilton at the head, and prepare for a French invasion.

However, the Federalists became divided after Adams sent a successful peace mission to France that ended the Quasi-War of During the first two decades after the Revolutionary War, there were dramatic changes in the status of slavery among the states and an increase in the number of freed blacks.

Inspired by revolutionary ideals of the equality of men and influenced by their lesser economic reliance on slavery, northern states abolished slavery. States of the Upper South made manumission easier, resulting in an increase in the proportion of free blacks in the Upper South as a percentage of the total non-white population from less than one percent in to more than 10 percent by By that date, a total of Jefferson's major achievement as president was the Louisiana Purchase in , which provided U.

Jefferson, a scientist himself, supported expeditions to explore and map the new domain, most notably the Lewis and Clark Expedition. He also distrusted the federal government and judges, and tried to weaken the judiciary. However he met his match in John Marshall , a Federalist from Virginia. Although the Constitution specified a Supreme Court , its functions were vague until Marshall, the Chief Justice —35 , defined them, especially the power to overturn acts of Congress or states that violated the Constitution, first enunciated in in Marbury v.

Thomas Jefferson defeated Adams for the presidency in the election. Americans were increasingly angry at the British violation of American ships' neutral rights in order to hurt France, the impressment seizure of 10, American sailors needed by the Royal Navy to fight Napoleon, and British support for hostile Indians attacking American settlers in the Midwest.

They may also have desired to annex all or part of British North America. The war was frustrating for both sides. Both sides tried to invade the other and were repulsed. The American high command remained incompetent until the last year. The American militia proved ineffective because the soldiers were reluctant to leave home and efforts to invade Canada repeatedly failed. The British blockade ruined American commerce, bankrupted the Treasury, and further angered New Englanders, who smuggled supplies to Britain.

The Indian threat to expansion into the Midwest was permanently ended. The British invaded and occupied much of Maine. Finally in early Andrew Jackson decisively defeated a major British invasion at the Battle of New Orleans , making him the most famous war hero.

With Napoleon apparently gone, the causes of the war had evaporated and both sides agreed to a peace that left the prewar boundaries intact. Americans claimed victory on February 18, as news came almost simultaneously of Jackson's victory of New Orleans and the peace treaty that left the prewar boundaries in place.

Americans swelled with pride at success in the "second war of independence"; the naysayers of the antiwar Federalist Party were put to shame and the party never recovered. The Indians were the big losers; they never gained the independent nationhood Britain had promised and no longer posed a serious threat as settlers poured into the Midwest. As strong opponents of the war, the Federalists held the Hartford Convention in that hinted at disunion. National euphoria after the victory at New Orleans ruined the prestige of the Federalists and they no longer played a significant role as a political party.

So, with the assistance of foreign bankers, they chartered the Second Bank of the United States in The Republicans also imposed tariffs designed to protect the infant industries that had been created when Britain was blockading the U.

With the collapse of the Federalists as a party, the adoption of many Federalist principles by the Republicans, and the systematic policy of President James Monroe in his two terms —25 to downplay partisanship, the nation entered an Era of Good Feelings , with far less partisanship than before or after , and closed out the First Party System.

The Monroe Doctrine , expressed in , proclaimed the United States' opinion that European powers should no longer colonize or interfere in the Americas. This was a defining moment in the foreign policy of the United States. In , President Andrew Jackson , 7th President of the United States, ran for a second term under the slogan "Jackson and no bank" and did not renew the charter of the Second Bank of the United States of America, ending the Bank in In , Congress passed the Indian Removal Act , which authorized the president to negotiate treaties that exchanged Native American tribal lands in the eastern states for lands west of the Mississippi River.

Jacksonian Democrats demanded the forcible removal of native populations who refused to acknowledge state laws to reservations in the West; Whigs and religious leaders opposed the move as inhumane.

Thousands of deaths resulted from the relocations, as seen in the Cherokee Trail of Tears. After the First Party System of Federalists and Republicans withered away in the s, the stage was set for the emergence of a new party system based on well organized local parties that appealed for the votes of almost all adult white men.

The former Jeffersonian Democratic-Republican party split into factions. They split over the choice of a successor to President James Monroe , and the party faction that supported many of the old Jeffersonian principles, led by Andrew Jackson and Martin Van Buren , became the Democratic Party. As Norton explains the transformation in Jacksonians believed the people's will had finally prevailed. Through a lavishly financed coalition of state parties, political leaders, and newspaper editors, a popular movement had elected the president.

The Democrats became the nation's first well-organized national party Opposing factions led by Henry Clay helped form the Whig Party. The Democratic Party had a small but decisive advantage over the Whigs until the s, when the Whigs fell apart over the issue of slavery. Behind the platforms issued by state and national parties stood a widely shared political outlook that characterized the Democrats:. The Democrats represented a wide range of views but shared a fundamental commitment to the Jeffersonian concept of an agrarian society.

They viewed the central government as the enemy of individual liberty. The "corrupt bargain" had strengthened their suspicion of Washington politics. Jacksonians feared the concentration of economic and political power. They believed that government intervention in the economy benefited special-interest groups and created corporate monopolies that favored the rich. They sought to restore the independence of the individual the "common man," i.

Their definition of the proper role of government tended to be negative, and Jackson's political power was largely expressed in negative acts. He exercised the veto more than all previous presidents combined. Jackson and his supporters also opposed reform as a movement. Reformers eager to turn their programs into legislation called for a more active government. But Democrats tended to oppose programs like educational reform mid the establishment of a public education system. They believed, for instance, that public schools restricted individual liberty by interfering with parental responsibility and undermined freedom of religion by replacing church schools.

Nor did Jackson share reformers' humanitarian concerns. He had no sympathy for American Indians, initiating the removal of the Cherokees along the Trail of Tears. The Second Great Awakening was a Protestant revival movement that affected the entire nation during the early 19th century and led to rapid church growth. The movement began around , gained momentum by , and, after membership rose rapidly among Baptist and Methodist congregations, whose preachers led the movement.

It was past its peak by the s. It enrolled millions of new members in existing evangelical denominations and led to the formation of new denominations. Many converts believed that the Awakening heralded a new millennial age. After the abolitionist movement redefined itself as a crusade against the sin of slave ownership. It mobilized support especially among religious women in the Northeast affected by the Second Great Awakening.

William Lloyd Garrison , a radical abolitionist, published the most influential of the many anti-slavery newspapers, The Liberator , while Frederick Douglass , an ex-slave, began writing for that newspaper around and started his own abolitionist newspaper North Star in The American colonies and the new nation grew rapidly in population and area, as pioneers pushed the frontier of settlement west.

Native American tribes in some places resisted militarily, but they were overwhelmed by settlers and the army and after were relocated to reservations in the west. The highly influential " Frontier Thesis " of Wisconsin historian Frederick Jackson Turner argues that the frontier shaped the national character, with its boldness, violence, innovation, individualism , and democracy. Recent historians have emphasized the multicultural nature of the frontier. Enormous popular attention in the media focuses on the "Wild West" of the second half of the 19th century.

As defined by Hine and Faragher, "frontier history tells the story of the creation and defense of communities, the use of the land, the development of markets, and the formation of states". They explain, "It is a tale of conquest, but also one of survival, persistence, and the merging of peoples and cultures that gave birth and continuing life to America.

The Hispanics in California " Californios " were overwhelmed by over , gold rush miners. San Francisco by had become the economic hub of the entire Pacific Coast with a diverse population of a quarter million.

From the early s to , the Oregon Trail and its many offshoots were used by over , settlers. Wagon-trains took five or six months on foot; after , the trip took 6 days by rail. Manifest Destiny was the belief that American settlers were destined to expand across the continent. This concept was born out of "A sense of mission to redeem the Old World by high example After a bitter debate in Congress the Republic of Texas was annexed in , leading to war with Mexico, who considered Texas to be a part of Mexico due to the large numbers of Mexican settlers.

The Mexican—American War —48 broke out with the Whigs opposed to the war, and the Democrats supporting the war. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the war in Many Democrats wanted to annex all of Mexico, but that idea was rejected by southerners who argued that by incorporating millions of Mexican people, mainly of mixed race, would undermine the United States as an exclusively white republic.

Simultaneously, gold was discovered in California in , attracting over , men to northern California in a matter of months in the California Gold Rush. A peaceful compromise with Britain gave the U. The central issue after was the expansion of slavery, pitting the anti-slavery elements in the North, against the pro-slavery elements that dominated the South.

A small number of active Northerners were abolitionists who declared that ownership of slaves was a sin in terms of Protestant theology and demanded its immediate abolition. Much larger numbers in the North were against the expansion of slavery, seeking to put it on the path to extinction so that America would be committed to free land as in low-cost farms owned and cultivated by a family , free labor, and free speech as opposed to censorship of abolitionist material in the South.

Southern whites insisted that slavery was of economic, social, and cultural benefit to all whites and even to the slaves themselves , and denounced all anti-slavery spokesmen as "abolitionists. Defenders of slavery argued that the sudden end to the slave economy would have had a profound and killing economic impact in the South where reliance on slave labor was the foundation of their economy.

They also argued that if all the slaves were freed, there would be widespread unemployment and chaos. Religious activists split on slavery, with the Methodists and Baptists dividing into northern and southern denominations.

In the North, the Methodists, Congregationalists , and Quakers included many abolitionists , especially among women activists. The Catholic , Episcopal and Lutheran denominations largely ignored the slavery issue. The issue of slavery in the new territories was seemingly settled by the Compromise of , brokered by Whig Henry Clay and Democrat Stephen Douglas ; the Compromise included the admission of California as a free state in exchange for no federal restrictions on slavery placed on Utah or New Mexico.

Abolitionists pounced on the Act to attack slavery, as in the best-selling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe.

The Compromise of was repealed in with the Kansas—Nebraska Act , promoted by Senator Douglas in the name of " popular sovereignty " and democracy.

It permitted voters to decide on the legality slavery in each territory, and allowed Douglas to adopt neutrality on the issue of slavery.

Anti-slavery forces rose in anger and alarm, forming the new Republican Party. Pro- and anti- contingents rushed to Kansas to vote slavery up or down, resulting in a miniature civil war called Bleeding Kansas. By the late s, the young Republican Party dominated nearly all northern states and thus the electoral college.

It insisted that slavery would never be allowed to expand and thus would slowly die out. The Southern slavery-based societies had become wealthy based on their cotton and other agricultural commodity production, and some particularly profited from the internal slave trade. Northern cities such as Boston and New York, and regional industries, were tied economically to slavery by banking, shipping, and manufacturing, including textile mills.

By , there were four million slaves in the South , nearly eight times as many as there were nationwide in The plantations were highly profitable, due to the heavy European demand for raw cotton.

Most of the profits were invested in new lands and in purchasing more slaves largely drawn from the declining tobacco regions. For 50 of the nation's first 72 years, a slaveholder served as President of the United States and, during that period, only slaveholding presidents were re-elected to second terms. Slave rebellions, by Gabriel Prosser , Denmark Vesey , Nat Turner , and most famously by John Brown , caused fear in the white South, which imposed stricter oversight of slaves and reduced the rights of free blacks.

The Fugitive Slave Act of required the states to cooperate with slave owners when attempting to recover escaped slaves, which outraged Northerners. Formerly, an escaped slave that reached a non-slave state was presumed to have attained sanctuary and freedom under the Missouri Compromise. The Supreme Court's decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford ruled that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional; angry Republicans said this decision threatened to make slavery a national institution.

After Abraham Lincoln won the election , seven Southern states seceded from the union and set up a new nation, the Confederate States of America Confederacy , on February 8, It attacked Fort Sumter , a U.

Army fort in South Carolina, thus igniting the war. When Lincoln called for troops to suppress the Confederacy in April , four more states seceded and joined the Confederacy. A few of the northernmost " slave states " did not secede and became known as the border states ; these were Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri.

During the war, the northwestern portion of Virginia seceded from the Confederacy. In response to the attack, on April 15, Lincoln called on the states to send detachments totaling 75, troops to recapture forts, protect the capital, and "preserve the Union", which in his view still existed intact despite the actions of the seceding states.

The two armies had their first major clash at the First Battle of Bull Run Battle of Manassas , ending in a Union defeat, but, more importantly, proved to both the Union and Confederacy that the war would be much longer and bloodier than originally anticipated. The war soon divided into two theaters: In the western theater, the Union was relatively successful, with major battles, such as Perryville and Shiloh along with Union gunboat dominance of navigable rivers producing strategic Union victories and destroying major Confederate operations.

Major General George B. McClellan was put in charge of the Union armies. The main action was Union success in controlling the border states, with Confederates largely driven out of Maryland, West Virginia a new state , Kentucky and Missouri. The autumn Confederate campaign into Maryland was designed to hurt Union morale and win European support. It ended with Confederate retreat at the Battle of Antietam , and Lincoln's warning he would issue an Emancipation Proclamation in January if the states did not return.

Making slavery a central war goal Energized Republicans in the North, as well as their enemies, the anti-war Copperhead Democrats. It ended the risk of British and French intervention. Lee's smaller army won at the Battle of Fredericksburg late in , causing yet another change in commanders.

Lee won again at the Battle of Chancellorsville in May , while losing his top aide, Stonewall Jackson. But Lee pushed too hard and ignored the Union threat in the west. Lee invaded Pennsylvania in search of supplies and to cause war-weariness in the North. In perhaps the turning point of the war , Lee's army was badly beaten at the Battle of Gettysburg , July 1—3, , and barely made it back to Virginia. Foreign trade increased, with the United States providing both food and cotton to Britain, And Britain sending in manufactured products and thousands of volunteers for the Union Army plus a few to the Confederates.

The British operated blockade runners bringing in food, luxury items and munitions to the Confederacy, bringing out tobacco and cotton.

The Union blockade increasingly shut down Confederate ports, and by late the blockade runners Were usually captured before they could make more than handful of runs. Grant gained control of the Mississippi River at the Battle of Vicksburg , thereby splitting the Confederacy. Lincoln made General Grant commander of all Union armies. In , Sherman marched south from Chattanooga to capture Atlanta, a decisive victory that ended war jitters among Republicans in the North who feared they might fail to reelect Lincoln in Lincoln won a landslide.

The last two years of the war were bloody for both sides, With Sherman marching almost unopposed through central and eastern Georgia, then moving up through South Carolina and North Carolina, burning cities, destroying plantations, ruining railroads and bridges, but avoiding civilian casualties.

Sherman demonstrated that the South line the long-term ability to resist a northern invasion. Much of the heartland of the Confederacy was physically destroyed, and could no longer provide desperately needed food, horses, mules, wagons, boots or munitions to its combat armies.

In spring Grant, realizing that Lee was unable to replenishes casualties, while Lincoln would provide replacements for Union losses, launched a war of attrition against Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. This war of attrition was divided into three main campaigns. The first of these, the Overland Campaign forced Lee to retreat into the city of Petersburg where Grant launched his second major offensive, the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign in which he besieged Petersburg.

After a near ten-month siege, Petersburg surrendered. However, the defense of Fort Gregg allowed Lee to move his army out of Petersburg.

Other Confederate armies followed suit and the war ended with no postwar insurgency. The American Civil War was the world's earliest industrial war. Railroads, the telegraph, steamships, and mass-produced weapons were employed extensively. The mobilization of civilian factories, mines, shipyards, banks, transportation and food supplies all foreshadowed the impact of industrialization in World War I. It remains the deadliest war in American history, resulting in the deaths of about , soldiers and an undetermined number of civilian casualties.

According to historian Allan Nevins the Civil War had a major long-term impact on the United States in terms of developing its leadership potential and moving the entire nation beyond the adolescent stage:. In a single stroke it changed the legal status, as recognized by the U. The owners were never compensated. Plantation owners, realizing that emancipation would destroy their economic system, sometimes moved their slaves as far as possible out of reach of the Union army.

By June , the Union Army controlled all of the Confederacy and liberated all of the designated slaves. The severe dislocations of war and Reconstruction had a large negative impact on the black population, with a large amount of sickness and death. Reconstruction lasted from Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, to the Compromise of The major issues faced by Lincoln were the status of the ex-slaves called "Freedmen" , the loyalty and civil rights of ex-rebels, the status of the 11 ex-Confederate states, the powers of the federal government needed to prevent a future civil war, and the question of whether Congress or the President would make the major decisions.

The severe threats of starvation and displacement of the unemployed Freedmen were met by the first major federal relief agency, the Freedmen's Bureau , operated by the Army. Three " Reconstruction Amendments " were passed to expand civil rights for black Americans: Ex-Confederates remained in control of most Southern states for over two years, but changed when the Radical Republicans gained control of Congress in the elections.

President Andrew Johnson , who sought easy terms for reunions with ex-rebels, was virtually powerless in the face of the Radical Republican Congress; he was impeached, but the Senate's attempt to remove him from office failed by one vote. Congress enfranchised black men and temporarily stripped many ex-Confederate leaders of the right to hold office. New Republican governments came to power based on a coalition of Freedmen made up of Carpetbaggers new arrivals from the North , and Scalawags native white Southerners.

They were backed by the U. Opponents said they were corrupt and violated the rights of whites. State by state they lost power to a conservative-Democratic coalition, which gained control of the entire South by Paramilitary groups, such as the White League and Red Shirts emerged about that worked openly to use intimidation and violence to suppress black voting to regain white political power in states across the South during the s.

Rable described them as the military arm of the Democratic Party. Reconstruction ended after the disputed election. The Compromise of gave Republican candidate Rutherford B. Hayes the White House in exchange for removing all remaining federal troops in the South. The federal government withdrew its troops from the South, and Southern Democrats took control of every Southern state. They passed segregation laws and imposed second-class status on blacks in a system known as Jim Crow that lasted until the Civil Rights Movement.

The latter half of the nineteenth century was marked by the rapid development and settlement of the far West, first by wagon trains and riverboats and then aided by the completion of the transcontinental railroad.

Large numbers of European immigrants especially from Germany and Scandinavia took up low-cost or free farms in the Prairie States. Mining for silver and copper opened up the Mountain West. The United States Army fought frequent small-scale wars with Native Americans as settlers encroached on their traditional lands.

According to the U. Bureau of the Census , from to The Indian wars under the government of the United States have been more than 40 in number. They have cost the lives of about 19, white men, women and children, including those killed in individual combats, and the lives of about 30, Indians.

The actual number of killed and wounded Indians must be very much higher than the given Fifty percent additional would be a safe estimate The "Gilded Age" was a term that Mark Twain used to describe the period of the late 19th century with a dramatic expansion of American wealth and prosperity, underscored by the mass corruption in the government. Reforms of the Age included the Civil Service Act , which mandated a competitive examination for applicants for government jobs.

Other important legislation included the Interstate Commerce Act , which ended railroads' discrimination against small shippers, and the Sherman Antitrust Act , which outlawed monopolies in business. Twain believed that this age was corrupted by such elements as land speculators, scandalous politics, and unethical business practices. Beard and Matthew Josephson , some historians have argued that the United States was effectively plutocratic for at least part of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.

Morgan and John D. Rockefeller began to amass vast fortunes, many U. By American industrial production and per capita income exceeded those of all other world nations. In response to heavy debts and decreasing farm prices, wheat and cotton farmers joined the Populist Party.

From to , peak years of immigration, more than 22 million people migrated to the United States. Many immigrants were craftsmen especially from Britain and Germany bringing human skills, and others were farmers especially from Germany and Scandinavia who purchased inexpensive land on the Prairies from railroads who sent agents to Europe.

Poverty, growing inequality and dangerous working conditions, along with socialist and anarchist ideas diffusing from European immigrants, led to the rise of the labor movement , which often included violent strikes. Skilled workers banded together to control their crafts and raise wages by forming labor unions in industrial areas of the Northeast. Before the s few factory workers joined the unions in the labor movement. Samuel Gompers led the American Federation of Labor — , coordinating multiple unions.

Industrial growth was rapid, led by John D. Rockefeller in oil and Andrew Carnegie in steel; both became leaders of philanthropy Gospel of Wealth , giving away their fortunes to create the modern system of hospitals, universities, libraries, and foundations.

The Panic of broke out and was a severe nationwide depression impacting farmers, workers, and businessmen who saw prices, wages, and profits fall. The resultant political reaction fell on the Democratic Party, whose leader President Grover Cleveland shouldered much of the blame. Labor unrest involved numerous strikes, most notably the violent Pullman Strike of , which was shut down by federal troops under Cleveland's orders. The Populist Party gained strength among cotton and wheat farmers, as well as coal miners, but was overtaken by the even more popular Free Silver movement, which demanded using silver to enlarge the money supply, leading to inflation that the silverites promised would end the depression.

The financial, railroad, and business communities fought back hard, arguing that only the gold standard would save the economy. In the most intense election in the nation's history, conservative Republican William McKinley defeated silverite William Jennings Bryan , who ran on the Democratic, Populist, and Silver Republican tickets.

Bryan swept the South and West, but McKinley ran up landslides among the middle class, industrial workers, cities, and among upscale farmers in the Midwest. Prosperity returned under McKinley, the gold standard was enacted, and the tariff was raised. By the U. Apart from two short recessions in and the overall economy remained prosperous and growing until Republicans, citing McKinley's policies, took the credit. Dissatisfaction on the part of the growing middle class with the corruption and inefficiency of politics as usual, and the failure to deal with increasingly important urban and industrial problems, led to the dynamic Progressive Movement starting in the s.

In every major city and state, and at the national level as well, and in education, medicine, and industry, the progressives called for the modernization and reform of decrepit institutions, the elimination of corruption in politics, and the introduction of efficiency as a criterion for change.

Women became especially involved in demands for woman suffrage, prohibition, and better schools; their most prominent leader was Jane Addams of Chicago, who created settlement houses.

Progressives implemented anti-trust laws and regulated such industries of meat-packing, drugs, and railroads. The United States emerged as a world economic and military power after The main episode was the Spanish—American War , which began when Spain refused American demands to reform its oppressive policies in Cuba. Cuba became an independent country, under close American tutelage.

Although the war itself was widely popular, the peace terms proved controversial. William Jennings Bryan led his Democratic Party in opposition to control of the Philippines, which he denounced as imperialism unbecoming to American democracy.

McKinley easily defeated Bryan in a rematch in the presidential election. After defeating an insurrection by Filipino nationalists , the United States engaged in a large-scale program to modernize the economy of the Philippines and dramatically upgrade the public health facilities. In when Arizona became the final mainland state , the American Frontier came to an end. The canal opened in and increased trade with Japan and the rest of the Far East. A key innovation was the Open Door Policy , whereby the imperial powers were given equal access to Chinese business, with not one of them allowed to take control of China.

As World War I raged in Europe from , President Woodrow Wilson took full control of foreign policy, declaring neutrality but warning Germany that resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare against American ships supplying goods to Allied nations would mean war.

Germany decided to take the risk and try to win by cutting off supplies to Britain through the sinking of ships such as the RMS Lusitania ; the U. Pershing arrived at the rate of 10, a day, while Germany was unable to replace its losses. The result was Allied victory in November President Wilson demanded Germany depose the Kaiser and accept his terms in the famed Fourteen Points speech.

Wilson dominated the Paris Peace Conference but Germany was treated harshly by the Allies in the Treaty of Versailles as Wilson put all his hopes in the new League of Nations. Wilson refused to compromise with Senate Republicans over the issue of Congressional power to declare war, and the Senate rejected the Treaty and the League. Presidential candidate Gerrit Smith argued for and established women's suffrage as a party plank.

One month later, his cousin Elizabeth Cady Stanton joined with Lucretia Mott and other women to organize the Seneca Falls Convention , featuring the Declaration of Sentiments demanding equal rights for women, and the right to vote. The women's rights campaign during " first-wave feminism " was led by Stanton, Lucy Stone and Susan B. Anthony , among many others. The movement reorganized after the Civil War, gaining experienced campaigners, many of whom had worked for prohibition in the Women's Christian Temperance Union.

By the end of the 19th century a few western states had granted women full voting rights, [] though women had made significant legal victories, gaining rights in areas such as property and child custody.

Around the feminist movement began to reawaken, putting an emphasis on its demands for equality and arguing that the corruption of American politics demanded purification by women because men could not do that job. Suffragists were arrested during their " Silent Sentinels " pickets at the White House, the first time such a tactic was used, and were taken as political prisoners. The old anti-suffragist argument that only men could fight a war, and therefore only men deserve the right to vote, was refuted by the enthusiastic participation of tens of thousands of American women on the home front in World War I.

Across the world, grateful nations gave women the right to vote. Furthermore, most of the Western states had already given the women the right to vote in state and national elections, and the representatives from those states, including the first woman Jeannette Rankin of Montana, demonstrated that woman suffrage was a success. The main resistance came from the south, where white leaders were worried about the threat of black women voting.

Congress passed the Nineteenth Amendment in , and women could vote in Politicians responded to the new electorate by emphasizing issues of special interest to women, especially prohibition, child health, and world peace.

Meanwhile, Protestants mobilized women to support Prohibition and vote for Republican Herbert Hoover. In the s the U. While public health facilities grew rapidly in the Progressive Era, and hospitals and medical schools were modernized, [] the nation in lost , lives to the Spanish flu pandemic. In , the manufacture, sale, import and export of alcohol were prohibited by the Eighteenth Amendment , Prohibition.

The result was that in cities illegal alcohol became a big business, largely controlled by racketeers. The second Ku Klux Klan grew rapidly in —25, then collapsed. Immigration laws were passed to strictly limit the number of new entries. The s were called the Roaring Twenties due to the great economic prosperity during this period. Jazz became popular among the younger generation, and thus the decade was also called the Jazz Age. The Great Depression —39 and the New Deal —36 were decisive moments in American political, economic, and social history that reshaped the nation.

During the s, the nation enjoyed widespread prosperity, albeit with a weakness in agriculture. A financial bubble was fueled by an inflated stock market , which later led to the Stock Market Crash on October 29, In , Democratic presidential nominee Franklin D.

Roosevelt promised "a New Deal for the American people", coining the enduring label for his domestic policies. The result was a series of permanent reform programs including Relief for the unemployed, assistance for the elderly, jobs for young men,social security, unemployment insurance, public housing, bankruptcy insurance, farm subsidies, and regulation of financial securities.

State governments added new programs as well, and introduced the sales tax to pay for them. Ideologically the revolution established modern liberalism in the United States and kept the Democrats in power in Washington almost continuously for Three decades thanks to the New Deal Coalition of ethnic Whites, Blacks, blue-collar workers, labor unions, and white Southerners.

It provided relief to the long-term unemployed through numerous programs, such as the Works Progress Administration WPA and for young men, the Civilian Conservation Corps. Large scale spending projects designed to provide private sector construction jobs and rebuild the infrastructure were under the purview of the Public Works Administration. The Second New Deal was a turn to the left in —36, building up labor unions through the Wagner Act. Unions became a powerful element of the merging New Deal Coalition , which won reelection for Roosevelt in , , and by mobilizing union members, blue collar workers, relief recipients, big city machines, ethnic, and religious groups especially Catholics and Jews and the white South, along with blacks in the North where they could vote.

Roosevelt seriously weakened his second term by a failed effort to pack the Supreme Court, which had been a center of conservative resistance to his programs. Most of the relief programs were dropped after in the s when the conservatives regained power in Congress through the Conservative Coalition. Of special importance is the Social Security program , begun in The economy basically recovered by , but had a sharp, short recession in ; long-term unemployment, however, remained a problem until it was solved by wartime spending.

In the Depression years, the United States remained focused on domestic concerns while democracy declined across the world and many countries fell under the control of dictators. Imperial Japan asserted dominance in East Asia and in the Pacific. Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy militarized and threatened conquests, while Britain and France attempted appeasement to avert another war in Europe. Roosevelt positioned the U. Japan tried to neutralize America's power in the Pacific by attacking Pearl Harbor on December 7, , which catalyzed American support to enter the war.

The main contributions of the U. Much of the focus in Washington was maximizing the economic output of the nation. This was achieved by tens of millions of workers moving from low-productivity occupations to high efficiency jobs, improvements in productivity through better technology and management, and the move into the active labor force of students, retired people, housewives, and the unemployed, and an increase in hours worked.

It was exhausting; leisure activities declined sharply. People tolerated the extra work because of patriotism, the pay, and the confidence that it was only "for the duration", and life would return to normal as soon as the war was won. Most durable goods became unavailable, and meat, clothing, and gasoline were tightly rationed. In industrial areas housing was in short supply as people doubled up and lived in cramped quarters.

Prices and wages were controlled, and Americans saved a high portion of their incomes, which led to renewed growth after the war instead of a return to depression. The Allies saw Germany as the main threat and gave highest priority to Europe. American ground forces assisted in the North African Campaign that eventually concluded with the collapse of Mussolini's fascist government in , as Italy switched to the Allied side. On the home front , mobilization of the U.

The wartime production boom led to full employment, wiping out this vestige of the Great Depression. Indeed, labor shortages encouraged industry to look for new sources of workers, finding new roles for women and blacks.

However, the fervor also inspired anti-Japanese sentiment , leading to internment of Japanese Americans. The terms of this executive order resulted in some , people of Japanese descent living in the US removed from their homes and placed in internment camps.

Two-thirds of those interned were American citizens and half of them were children. United States Supreme Court case. Research and development took flight as well, best seen in the Manhattan Project , a secret effort to harness nuclear fission to produce highly destructive atomic bombs.

Army Corps of Engineers. Robert Oppenheimer was the director of the Los Alamos Laboratory that designed the actual bombs. The first nuclear device ever detonated was an implosion-type bomb at the Trinity test , conducted at New Mexico's Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range on 16 July The Allies pushed the Germans out of France but faced an unexpected counterattack at the Battle of the Bulge in December.

The final German effort failed, and, as Allied armies in East and West were converging on Berlin, the Nazis hurriedly tried to kill the last remaining Jews. The western front stopped short, leaving Berlin to the Soviets as the Nazi regime formally capitulated in May , ending the war in Europe.

Though the nation lost more than , military personnel, [] the mainland prospered untouched by the devastation of war that inflicted a heavy toll on Europe and Asia. Participation in postwar foreign affairs marked the end of predominant American isolationism. The awesome threat of nuclear weapons inspired both optimism and fear. Nuclear weapons were never used after , as both sides drew back from the brink and a "long peace" characterized the Cold War years, starting with the Truman Doctrine in May 22, There were, however, regional wars in Korea and Vietnam.

Senate on a bipartisan vote approved U. The primary American goal of —48 was to rescue Europe from the devastation of World War II and to contain the expansion of Communism, represented by the Soviet Union. In , the United States replaced piecemeal financial aid programs with a comprehensive Marshall Plan , which pumped money into the economy of Western Europe, and removed trade barriers, while modernizing the managerial practices of businesses and governments. Soviet head of state Joseph Stalin prevented his satellite states from participating, and from that point on, Eastern Europe, with inefficient centralized economies, fell further and further behind Western Europe in terms of economic development and prosperity.

In , the United States, rejecting the long-standing policy of no military alliances in peacetime, formed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization NATO alliance, which continues into the 21st century. In response the Soviets formed the Warsaw Pact of communist states, leading to the " iron curtain ". In August the Soviets tested their first nuclear weapon, thereby escalating the risk of warfare. The threat of mutually assured destruction however, prevented both powers from nuclear war, and resulted in proxy wars, especially in Korea and Vietnam , in which the two sides did not directly confront each other.

The unexpected leapfrogging of American technology by the Soviets in with Sputnik , the first Earth satellite, began the Space Race , won by the Americans as Apollo 11 landed astronauts on the moon in The angst about the weaknesses of American education led to large-scale federal support for science education and research. In the decades after World War II, the United States became a global influence in economic, political, military, cultural, and technological affairs.

Beginning in the s, middle-class culture became obsessed with consumer goods. In , the charismatic politician John F. The Kennedy family brought a new life and vigor to the atmosphere of the White House. 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. Laws are rarely being enforced, due to factors ranging from reluctance of authorities to pursue the crime, to lack of public knowledge that sexual intercourse in marriage without consent is illegal.

Marital rape is more widely experienced by women, though not exclusively. Marital rape is often a chronic form of violence for the victim which takes place within abusive relations.

It exists in a complex web of state governments, cultural practices, and societal ideologies which combine to influence each distinct instance and situation in varying ways. The reluctance to criminalize and prosecute marital rape has been attributed to traditional views of marriage, interpretations of religious doctrines, ideas about male and female sexuality , and to cultural expectations of subordination of a wife to her husband—views which continue to be common in many parts of the world.

These views of marriage and sexuality started to be challenged in most Western countries from the s and 70s especially by second-wave feminism , leading to an acknowledgment of the woman's right to self-determination i. 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 s.

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. In many countries, it is still unclear whether marital rape is covered by the ordinary rape laws, but in some it may be covered by general statutes prohibiting violence, such as assault and battery laws.

One of the origins of the concept of a marital exemption from rape laws a rule that a husband cannot be charged with the rape of his wife is the idea that by marriage a woman gives irrevocable consent for her husband to have sex with her any time he demands it.

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. Feenstra , U. 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.

A husband's control over his wife's body could also be seen in the way adultery between a wife and another man was constructed; for example in , English Lord Chief Justice John Holt described the act of a man having sexual relations with another man's wife as "the highest invasion of property". Rape as a crime was constructed as a property crime against a father or husband not as a crime against the woman's right to self-determination.

The property to be withheld in a female was her virginity; this was the commodity Bergen, 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, Therefore, a man could not be prosecuted for raping his own wife because she was his possession Schelong, However, if another man raped someone's wife, this was essentially stealing property a women's sexuality Bergen, In English customs, "bride capture" a man claiming a woman through rape was thought to be stealing a father's property by raping his daughter.

Therefore, rape laws were created to "…protect the property interests men had in their women, not to protect women themselves" Schelong, This concept of women as property permeates current marital rape ideology and laws throughout the globe.

Following this logic, if consent is not part of marriage, then it is not necessary for intercourse. The autonomy of the wife is also often compromised in cultures where bride price is paid. Under customary law in certain parts of Africa, forced sex in marriage was not prohibited, although some specific circumstances, such as during advanced pregnancy, immediately after childbirth, during menstruation, or during mourning for a deceased close relative, were recognized as giving the wife the right to refuse sex.

Rape has been, until recent decades, understood as a crime against honor and reputation — not only in domestic legislation, but also in international law; for example according to the Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention , "Women shall be especially protected against any attack on their honour, in particular against rape, enforced prostitution, or any form of indecent assault".

Historically, many cultures have had a concept of spouses' conjugal rights [9] to sexual intercourse with each other. This can be seen in English common law , in force in North America and the British Commonwealth , where the very concept of marital rape was treated as an impossibility. 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 — , for instance, his citation of the jurist Bracton c. Marriage created conjugal rights between spouses, and marriage could not be annulled except by a private Act of Parliament—it therefore follows that a spouse could not revoke conjugal rights from the marriage, and therefore there could be no rape between spouses. The principle was framed as an exemption to the law of rape in an English courtroom in R v Clarence , [11] but it was not overturned until by the House of Lords in the case of R.

R in , [12] where it was described as an anachronistic and offensive legal fiction. From the beginnings of the 19th century feminist movement , activists challenged the presumed right of men to engage in forced or coerced sex with their wives. In the United States , "the nineteenth-century woman's rights movement fought against a husband's right to control marital intercourse in a campaign that was remarkably developed, prolific, and insistent, given nineteenth-century taboos against the public mention of sex or sexuality.

Nineteenth century feminist demands centered on the right of women to control their bodies and fertility, positioned consent in marital sexual relations as an alternative to contraception and abortion which many opposed , and also embraced eugenic concerns about excessive procreation. Gove Nichols, joined a critique of marital rape to advocate women's autonomy and sexual pleasure. De Cleyre defended Harman in a well-known article, "Sexual Slavery. Bertrand Russell who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in his book Marriage and Morals deplored the situation of married women.

He wrote "Marriage is for woman the commonest mode of livelihood, and the total amount of undesired sex endured by women is probably greater in marriage than in prostitution. The marital rape exemption or defence became more widely viewed as inconsistent with the developing concepts of human rights and equality. Feminists worked systematically since the s to overturn the marital rape exemption and criminalize marital rape. This establishes marital rape as a human rights violation.

The importance of the right to self sexual determination of women is increasingly being recognized as crucial to women's rights. Despite these trends and international moves, criminalization has not occurred in all UN member States. In , the UN Secretary-General's in-depth study on all forms of violence against women stated that page In Pursuit of Justice stated that page Traditionally, rape was a criminal offense that could only be committed outside marriage, and courts did not apply the rape statutes to acts of forced sex between spouses.

With changing social views, and international condemnation of sexual violence in marriage, courts have started to apply the rape laws in marriage. The current applicability in many countries of rape laws to spouses is currently unclear, since in many countries the laws have not been recently tested in court. In some countries, notably jurisdictions which have inherited the Indian Penal Code such as Singapore , India , Bangladesh , Sri Lanka , Burma and some countries in the Commonwealth Caribbean region, the laws explicitly exempt spouses from prosecution for instance, under the Indian Penal Code, which has also been inherited by other countries in the region, the law on rape states that "Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife is not rape".

An example of a country where the rape law explicitly excludes a husband as a possible perpetrator is Ethiopia ; its rape law states: Whoever compels a woman to submit to sexual intercourse outside wedlock , whether by the use of violence or grave intimidation, or after having rendered her unconscious or incapable of resistance, is punishable with rigorous imprisonment from five years to fifteen years".

Another example is South Sudan , where the law states: By , in Europe, there was international pressure to criminalize marital rape: It also provided a definition of violence against women, and gave a list of non-exhaustive examples, including marital rape see section "Definition" para 1. Although the approach on the issue of violence against women has varied significantly among European countries, the traditional view that acts of violence against a woman are crimes against honor and morality, and not against the self-determination of the woman, was still prevalent in the s in many countries.

A report produced by Amnesty International , [34] described Danish laws on sexual violence as "inconsistent with international human rights standards", [35] which has led to Denmark eventually reforming its sexual offenses legislation in The countries which choose to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence , the first legally binding instrument in Europe in the field of violence against women, [41] are bound by its provisions to ensure that non-consensual sexual acts committed against a spouse or partner are illegal.

Countries which were early to criminalize marital rape include the Soviet Union , [44] Poland , Czechoslovakia , some other members of the Communist Bloc , Sweden , [45] and Norway Canada , [50] [51] New Zealand , and Ireland Marital rape was criminalized in Austria in [52] and in it became a state offense meaning it can be prosecuted by the state even in the absence of a complaint from the spouse, with procedures being similar to stranger rape [53].

In Switzerland marital rape became a crime in [54] and became a state offense in [55]. In Spain , the Supreme Court ruled in that sex within marriage must be consensual and that sexuality in marriage must be understood in light of the principle of the freedom to make one's own decisions with respect to sexual activity; in doing so it upheld the conviction of a man who had been found guilty of raping his wife by a lower court.

In Europe , Finland outlawed marital rape in The country has been made the object of international criticism in regard to its approach towards violence against women.

Belgium was early to criminalize marital rape. In , the Brussels Court of Appeal recognized marital rape and found that a husband who used serious violence to coerce his wife into having sex against her wishes was guilty of the criminal offense of rape. The logic of the court was that, although the husband did have a 'right' to sex with his wife, he could not use violence to claim it, as Belgian laws did not allow people to obtain their rights by violence.

It would appear, however, that to the extent that the marital rape exemption exists, it is confined to circumstances where the spouses are cohabiting and there are no separation proceedings in being, or even, perhaps, in contemplation. In France , in , following a case where a man had tortured and raped his wife, the Court of Cassation authorized prosecution of spouses for rape or sexual assault. In the Court convicted a man of the rape of his wife, stating that the presumption that spouses have consented to sexual acts that occur within marriage is only valid when the contrary is not proven.

Germany outlawed spousal rape in , which is later than other developed countries. Female ministers and women's rights activists lobbied for this law for over 25 years. Before a new Criminal Code came into force in , [75] the law on rape in Bosnia and Herzegovina also contained a statutory exemption, and read: Marital rape was criminalized in Serbia in ; before that date rape was legally defined as forced sexual intercourse outside of marriage.

In , in Judgment no. Marital rape was made illegal in the Netherlands in In Italy the law on rape, violenza carnale 'carnal violence', as it was termed did not contain a statutory exemption, but was, as elsewhere, understood as inapplicable in the context of marriage.

Although Italy has a reputation of a male dominated traditional society, it was quite early to accept that the rape law covers forced sex in marriage too: Cyprus criminalized marital rape in It entered into force on 24 October This legislation also prohibits numerous other forms of violence within marriage and cohabiting relations, and various other forms of abuse of women. Liechtenstein made marital rape illegal in In Colombia , marital rape was criminalized in , [94] in Chile in Thailand outlawed marital rape in One opponent of the law was legal scholar Taweekiet Meenakanit who voiced his opposition to the legal reforms.

He also opposed the making of rape a gender neutral offense. Meenakanit claimed that allowing a husband to file a rape charge against his wife is "abnormal logic" and that wives would refuse to divorce or put their husband in jail since many Thai wives are dependent on their husbands.

Papua New Guinea criminalized marital rape in Section of the Indian Penal Code IPC considers the forced sex in marriages as a crime only when the wife is below age Thus, marital rape is not a criminal offense under the IPC. The legal history of marital rape laws in the United States is a long and complex one, that spans over several decades. Traditional rape laws in the US defined rape as forced sexual intercourse by a male with a "female not his wife", making it clear that the statutes did not apply to married couples.

The Model Penal Code stated that " A male who has sexual intercourse with a female not his wife is guilty of rape if: The criminalization of marital rape in the United States started in the mids and by marital rape was a crime in all 50 states, under at least one section of the sexual offense codes.

Bergen, ; Russell, In most states the criminalization has occurred by the removal of the exemptions from the general rape law by the legislature; or by the courts striking down the exemptions as unconstitutional. This is, for example, the case in California, where there are two different criminal offenses: Rape Article and Spousal Rape Article Although the issue of marital rape was highlighted by feminists in the 19th century, and was also deplored by thinkers such as John Stuart Mill and Bertrand Russell see above section 'Feminist critique in the 19th century' , it was not until the s that this issue was raised at a political level.

The late s also saw the enactment of Sexual Offences Amendment Act of , which provided the first statutory definition of rape prior to this rape was an offense at common law. The Criminal Law Revision Committee in their Report on Sexual Offences rejected the idea that the offense of rape should be extended to marital relations; writing the following: The Committee also expressed more general views on domestic violence arguing that "Violence occurs in some marriages but the wives do not always wish the marital tie to be severed" and reiterated the point that domestic incidents without physical injury would generally be outside the scope of the law: Five years later, in Scotland , the High Court of Justiciary took a different view, abolishing marital immunity, in S.

The same would happen in England and Wales in , in R v R see below. Very soon after this, in Australia, at the end of , in R v L , the High Court of Australia would rule the same, ruling that if the common law exemption had ever been part of the Australian law, it no longer was by that time most Australian states and territories had already abolished their exemptions by statutory law. The first attempted prosecution of a husband for the rape of his wife was R v Clarke.

There are at least four recorded instances of a husband successfully relying on the exemption in England and Wales. The first was R v Miller , [] where it was held that the wife had not legally revoked her consent despite having presented a divorce petition. R v Kowalski [] was followed by R v Sharples , [] and the fourth occurred in in the case of R v J , a judgment made after the first instance decision of the Crown Court in R v R but before the decision of the House of Lords that was to abolish the exemption.

In Miller , Kowalski and R v J the husbands were instead convicted of assault. The R v Kowalski case involved, among other acts, an instance of non-consensual oral sex. For this, the husband was convicted of indecent assault , as the court ruled that his wife's "implied consent" by virtue of marriage extended only to vaginal intercourse, not to other acts such as fellatio.

In R v Sharples in , it was alleged that the husband had raped his wife in Despite the fact that the wife had obtained a Family Protection Order before the alleged rape, the judge refused to accept that rape could legally occur, concluding that the Family Protection Order had not removed the wife's implied consent, ruling that: R v R in was the first occasion where the marital rights exemption had been appealed as far as the House of Lords, and it followed the trio of cases since where the marital rights exemption was upheld.

The leading judgment, unanimously approved, was given by Lord Keith of Kinkel. By , when the exemption was removed, the Law Commission in its Working Paper of was already supporting the abolition of the exemption, a view reiterated in their Final Report that was published in ; and international moves in this direction were by now common. Therefore, the result of the R v R case was welcomed.

But, while the removal of the exemption itself was not controversial, the way through which this was done was; since the change was not made through usual statutory modification.

They claimed that at the time of the rape there was a common law exemption in force, therefore their convictions were post facto. Their case was not successful, with their arguments being rejected by the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled that the criminalization of marital rape had become a reasonably foreseeable development of the criminal law in the light of the evolution of social norms; and that the Article 7 does not prohibit the gradual judicial evolution of the interpretation of an offense, provided the result is consistent with the essence of the offense and that it could be reasonably foreseen.

A new definition of the offense of 'rape' was created in by the section of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act , providing a broader definition that included anal sex; and an even broader definition was created by the Sexual Offences Act , including oral sex. The law on rape does not—and did not ever since the removal of the marital exemption in —provide for any different punishment based on the relation between parties.

All will depend upon the circumstances of the case. Where the parties are cohabiting and the husband insisted upon intercourse against his wife's will but without violence or threats this may reduce sentence. Where the conduct is gross and involves threats or violence the relationship will be of little significance.

At the time of R v R , rape in Northern Ireland was a crime at common law. Northern Ireland common law is similar to that of England and Wales, and partially derives from the same sources; so any alleged exemption from its rape law was also removed by R v R.

In March , a Belfast man was convicted for raping his wife, in the first case of its kind in Northern Ireland. Until 28 July , rape in Northern Ireland remained solely an offense at common law that could only be committed by a man against a woman only as vaginal intercourse. Between 28 July and 2 February rape was defined by the Criminal Justice Northern Ireland Order as "any act of non-consensual intercourse by a man with a person", but the common law offense continued to exist, and oral sex remained excluded.

On 2 February the Sexual Offences Northern Ireland Order came into force, abolishing the common law offense of rape, and providing a definition of rape that is similar to that of the Sexual Offences Act of England and Wales. The Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland has the same policy for marital rape as for other forms of rape; it states in its Policy for Prosecuting Cases of Rape document that: The criminalization of marital rape in Australia occurred in all states and territories, by both statutory and case law, from the late s to the early s.

In Australia, the offense of rape was based on the English common law offense of rape, being generally understood as " carnal knowledge ", outside of marriage, of a female against her will. Some Australian states left rape to be defined at common law, but others had statutory definitions, with these definitions having marital exemptions.

The definition of rape in Queensland , for instance, was: The first Australian state to deal with marital rape was South Australia. The changes came in , but these were only partly removing the exemption.

Nevertheless, the laws did not go as far as equating marital with non-marital rape; the law required violence, or other aggravating circumstances, in order for an act of marital intercourse to be rape; which remained law until The first Australian jurisdiction to completely remove the marital exemption was New South Wales in In , in R v L , the High Court of Australia ruled that if the common law exemption had ever been part of the Australian law, it no longer was.

In a variety of cultures, marriage after a rape of an unmarried woman has been treated historically as a "resolution" to the rape, that is, a "reparatory marriage". Although laws that exonerate the perpetrator if he marries his victim after the rape are often associated with the Middle East, [] such laws were very common around the world until the second half of the 20th century. For instance, as late as , 14 Latin American countries had such laws, [] although most of these countries have now abolished them.

Whether women were forced to marry their rapist, or the marriage was concluded before the violence began, many victims remain in chronically violent relationships. Cross-culturally, one of the barriers that keep victims within their marriages is the shame and guilt they feel surrounding marital rape Bergen, , or general taboos around sexuality Kwiatkowski, Torres, Lastly, some victims do not categorize their abuse as marital rape in order to minimize the violence they endure.

The earliest study in the Western World attempting to survey marital rape was an unpublished study by Joan Seites in the spring of Of the 3, reported calls dealing with rape and attempted rape received by the 16 centers, 12 calls dealt with marital rape 0. Because rape-crisis centers did not always record the relationships of the callers, whether the 12 reported calls fully represent the number of married relationships cannot be certainly known.

Researcher Richard Giles conducted research through in-depth interviews on violence between husbands and wives in a series of three studies between and Although the questions asked in the course of the interviews did not specifically pertain to the subject of marital rape, a subsequent analysis of the transcriptions of the interviews identified 4 women who discussed sex-related violence which might be viewed as instances of either attempted or completed marital rape. In all 4 cases, however, there was no instance a wife actually forced into having sex, although this may have been to avoid the possibility of force.

Although the four women did not view themselves as having been raped, Giles raised the question of whether engaging in the sex act, as an act itself, constitutes violence. In Diana E. Russell , a feminist writer and activist, conducted the seminal study on marital rape. David Finkelhor and Kersti Yllo published a study in on marital rape that drew on a scientifically-selected area probability sample from the metropolitan Boston area of women who were either married or previously married who had a child living with them between the ages of six and fourteen.

In , Patricia Easteal, then Senior Criminologist at the Australian Institute of Criminology, published the results of survey on sexual assault in many settings. The respondents had all been victims of numerous forms of sexual assault. Of the victim sub-sample, In Basile published research intended to address the lack of a nationally probability sample to-date that measured intimate sexual coercion faced by married women. Data were collected in a national poll by a random telephone survey of 1, residents in the continental U.

Notwithstanding the six scientific studies specifically on marital rape by husbands in the Western world cited above, not one gives an estimation of a rate of marital rape. The Yllo and Finkelhor study is not a nationally representative sample, i. The study did not separately estimate rates for claims of rape and situations deemed rape-threatening. In the Giles study, once threatening situations are distinguished, the findings differed significantly.

Easteal's study restricts estimation of prevalence to within only the sub-sample of victims, even though the estimation could similarly be applied to the population. Basile study, which purportedly was to address the hitherto lack of a nationally probability sample regarding marital rape, omits the number of married women in the sample, thereby precluding the estimation of rape reports by married women in the sample population.

The lack of such estimations make inter-study comparisons difficult, and citation of national statistics subject to the qualification made in the studies. The prevalence of marital rape is difficult to assess, especially outside the Western World. Discussing sexual matters in many cultures is taboo. One problem with studies on marital rape is that the Western concept of consent is not understood in many parts of the world.

Issues of consent are poorly understood, especially by young wives which are often young girls who do not have a proper understanding of sexual rights. For instance in an interview in a study for the World Health Organization, a woman from Bangladesh who described being hit by her husband and forced to have sex said that: This is the way a husband behaves. An example of such a place is Ethiopia. The prevalence of marital rape depends on the particularly legal, national, and cultural context. Rape by a spouse, partner or ex-partner is more often associated with physical violence.

Attributing the effects of marital rape in research is problematic as it is nearly impossible to find a large enough sample of spouses to study who have experienced sexual violence but have not also been physically assaulted by their spouse. In sub-Saharan countries with very high prevalence rates of HIV, such as Lesotho , instances of multiple partnerships and marital rape exacerbate the spread of HIV.

While rape by a stranger is highly traumatic , it is typically a one-time event and is clearly understood as rape. In the case of rape by a spouse or long term sexual partner, the history of the relationship affects the victim's reactions. There is research showing that marital rape can be more emotionally and physically damaging than rape by a stranger. Trauma from the rape adds to the effect of other abusive acts or abusive and demeaning talk.

Furthermore, marital rape is rarely a one-time event, but a repeated if not frequent occurrence. Unlike other forms of rape, where the victim can remove themselves from the company of the rapist and never interact with them again, in the case of marital rape the victim often has no choice but to continue living with their spouse: Forced marriage and child marriage are prevalent in many parts of the world, especially in parts of Asia and Africa.

A forced marriage is a marriage where one or both participants are married without their freely given consent; [] while a child marriage is a marriage where one or both parties are younger than Incidents taking place in some of these countries such as Yemen have received international attention.

One type of forced marriages occurs in Guatemala called robadas and Mexico called rapto. Rapto refers to "…an abduction for sexual or erotic purposes or marriage" Bovarnik, Following the abduction, marriage is often encouraged to maintain the family honor Bovarnik, This foundation of marriage had direct implications for sexual violence within the marriage. This notion of blaming the woman also occurs in reference to rapto in rural Mexico. Many of these women, who were given little choice in their marriage, are left to live with their abusers.

The historical and present day in jurisdictions where it still applies immunity of husbands to have sexual relations with their wives without consent was not the only marital immunity in regard to abuse; immunity from the use of violence was and still is in some countries common—in the form of a husband's right to use "moderate chastisement" against a 'disobedient' wife.

In the US, many states, especially Southern ones, maintained this immunity until the midth century. For instance, in , in Calvin Bradley v. Although by the late 19th century courts were unanimously agreeing that husbands no longer had the right to inflict "chastisement" on their wives, the public policy was set at ignoring incidents deemed not 'serious enough' for legal intervention.

In , the Supreme Court of North Carolina ruled: Today, husbands continue to be immune from prosecution in case of certain forms of physical abuse against their wives in some countries. For instance, in Iraq husbands have a legal right to "punish" their wives.

The criminal code states that there is no crime if an act is committed while exercising a legal right. Examples of legal rights include: Although most research is focused on wives as victims of marital rape, husbands experience marital rape as well. Research conducted by Morse , Straus , and Straus and Gelles suggest that men and women have nearly the same annual rates of victimization of violence by a marital or cohabitating partner Tjaden and Thoennes, One study that looked at lifetime experiences of marital and cohabitating partner violence found nearly equal rates of victimization among men and women Tjaden and Thoennes, However, these statistics convey the larger topic of partner violence and do not reflect rates of marital rape.

Given that same-sex marriage is a relatively new concept, and only minimally accepted globally, little research has explored marital rape in same-sex relationships. More research must be conducted to look at these relationships within the marital context. Legally, governments have direct impact on the occurrence of marital rape. The state "…engages in the definition, monitoring, and sanctioning of appropriate behavior" Torres, This can play out in criminalizing or not criminalizing marital rape and therefore deeming what is appropriate.

Catharine MacKinnon argues that rape laws in male dominated societies exist to regulate access to women from a male perspective, not to protect women's right to freely decide whether to engage in sexual intercourse or not. Whatever the reason behind such laws, even when state laws have criminalized marital rape, state institutions perpetuate it. For example, although marital rape has been criminalized throughout the United States, the original laws of the s and s treated marital rape differently from non-marital rape, and in some states this continues to be the case even today see Marital rape United States law.

As these laws exemplify, marital rape is seen as somehow less reprehensible than rape outside of marriage Bergen, Even when marital rape is prosecuted successfully, courts often pass shorter sentences - even if the law itself does not stipulate this - based on the view that sexual violation is less serious if it occurs within marriage.

Following this same understanding, British courts often pass lower sentences to marital rape than to other cases of rape because it is believed that it causes less harm to the victim Mandal, Police departments are another state institution that treats domestic violence differently than other forms of violence.

Police often label domestic abuse calls as low priority, respond slower, and focus on what provoked the abuse rather than the violent actions of the perpetrator Schelong, Also, they often act as mediators in the situation because they may feel that domestic violence is a family matter and therefore not their business Schelong, While government institutional influences are vast, marital rape is often sustained by cultural ideologies.

According to Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin, the issue of sexual violence, including within marriage, has not been a political spectrum issue - that is a left wing vs. For many cultures, ideas of marital rape seem often foreign imposed and contradict the belief that such matters should be dealt with privately rather than by the government Smith, In other instances, notably in the country of India, members of the government have spoken publicly that marital rape cannot be recognized in their culture.

The Indian Minister of State for Home Affairs, Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary , stated in April , "The concept of marital rape, as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors, including levels of education, illiteracy, poverty myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs, [and] the mindset of the society to treat the marriage as sacrament" Torres, For many other countries, the concept of marital rape is itself an oxymoron Smith, Women in these cultures largely "…share the cultural logic that marital rape is a contradiction in terms…" while men simultaneously "…see women's sexual consent in marriage as taken for granted…" and therefore "…reject the very concept of marital rape" Smith, The act of imposing sexual intercourse against the will of the wife is often not identified as morally wrong, and so it is difficult to attempt to stop the practice, "Often, men who coerce a spouse into a sexual act believe their actions are legitimate because they are married to the woman.

UN Women recommended the abolition of giving bride price, and stated that: Young women from various settings in South Asia explained in surveys that even if they felt discomfort and didn't want to have sex, they accepted their husbands' wishes and submitted, fearing that otherwise they would be beaten. This situation leaves women with very little sexual autonomy. The notion that women are sexually autonomous and therefore have the ability to give or retract consent is not universally understood.

Gabriella Torres writes, "The degree to which women and men view themselves as unique social beings with a full ability to make choices and suffer consequences varies by culture" Torres, As a result, in cultures where women are not considered autonomous, they are not in a position to refuse sex: According to Sheila Jeffreys , in Western countries, " sexual liberation " ideologies have aggravated the problem of male sexual entitlement, leading to women submitting to unwanted sex not only due to physical force or illegal threat, but due to societal pressure:

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