Today in Rape Culture

[Content Note: Spousal sexual assault.]

Republican Iowa State Representative Henry Rayhons has been arrested on a charge of third-degree sexual abuse for raping his wife, after officials at the Concord Care Center at which Donna Rayhons was residing told him "that she lacked the mental capacity to consent" then witnessed him a week later on video surveillance "leaving his wife's room and discarding her underclothes in a nearby laundry hamper." Her roommate corroborated the video evidence, reporting she heard noises indicating the sexual assault on the same day.

This is being reported in every story I've read about it as Rep. Rayhons "having sex with his wife." Even after he's been charged with felony sex abuse, thus making it entirely possible for any news outlet to say without legal issue that he was arrested for "sexually abusing his wife."

The state Attorney General's Office will reportedly be prosecuting the case. Although spousal rape is now illegal everywhere in the US, it is still difficult to successfully prosecute, especially when the victim is incapacitated. Donna Rayhons has also passed away since the assault.

Spousal rape has only been illegal in the entirety of the United States since 1993. It is crucial that we use correct and sensitive language that reflects the true nature of this crime, because there are still an awful lot of people who don't believe it should be a crime at all.

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