Illustration by Christine Hipp
Illustration by Christine Hipp

Relationships require trust. However, according to a 141-year-old loophole in California law, that trust can be taken advantage of to violate another human being.

But not for long. California lawmakers recently vowed to overturn a nineteenth-century loophole in which “a person who gets consent for sex by pretending to be someone else is guilty of rape only if posing as the victim’s spouse,” according to the BBC.

This obscure clause came to light when it was accepted on Jan 2. by the California appeals court as grounds for finding an alleged rapist not guilty. The defendant, Julio Morales, had posed as the plaintiff’s boyfriend to gain consent for sex. According to the clause, Morales could not be held responsible for rape because he had not posed as the plaintiff’s spouse.

Thankfully, there are now efforts to overturn this loophole. Katcho Achadjian, member of the California state assembly, said on Jan. 4 he would introduce a bill “to close whatever loopholes may exist in the law and uphold justice for rape victims.” Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal also said she would support Achadjian in this effort.

However it is frightening that such loopholes still exist. We live in a “modern” society, and thus our government must make every effort to eradicate every piece of legislation, old and new, that allows sexism or any other form of oppression.

This is not the only instance of freedom granted to those who commit sexual violence via loopholes. In Idaho, a similar law restricted a woman from pressing rape charges after she was tricked into having sex with a stranger by her boyfriend three years ago. Progress is being made however — Idaho’s law was amended in 2011 to cover all women against rape.

This type of oppressive legislation is being fought not only in the United States, but in India as well.

After six men gang raped a young medical student in New Delhi on a moving bus, protesters in India have sparked a national dialogue around rape and sexual violence in the world’s largest democracy. While there are more Indian women in public office and in the professional classes than ever before in India, and literacy and education rates have risen, many Indian women say they face sexual harassment regularly. More than 600 reported rapes happened in New Delhi last year alone, according to The New York Times.

Protesters are demanding protection for women and fast-tracking rape cases through India’s courts. They are also fighting to appeal an outdated section of the Indian Penal Code from 1860, which has been appealed only in 1983 and 2003. The section allows rape of a woman by her spouse if the woman is older than 15. After hearing protesters, the Indian government has formed a panel of legal experts to review such laws.

Protesters are inspiring change in this country and our legislators would do well to follow suit and to support assemblyman Achadjian and assemblywoman Lowenthal. We at City on a Hill Press stand in support of the efforts to overturn this egregious law and implore our lawmakers to close all loopholes in laws dealing with rape.