Editorial – No, marriage is not “implied consent” to sexual battery

Editorial – No, marriage is not “implied consent” to sexual battery

In an editorial last year, the Collegian asked, “how is this legal?” Now, we ask, “do we really have to say sexual battery is bad, no matter the circumstances?”

Sadly, the answer is, “apparently so.”

Current Kansas law defines sexual battery as “the touching of a victim, who is not the spouse of the offender… who does not consent thereto.” This gross wording stigmatizes victims, turns them off from reporting abuse, and potentially gives perpetrators a legal loophole.

Most state legislators are working to end the so-called spousal exemption, but not without ridiculous pushback from some of their colleagues.

HB 2120 passed the House 110-13 and is now in a Senate committee. One of the 13, a Representative from Wellsville, wondered aloud if passage would “(trigger) ethical obligations for what would seemingly be a routine act between man and woman.”

He offered a hypothetical scenario.

“Imagine after a long, hard day at work, and let’s say wife or husband is already asleep, and then perhaps touches the spouse hoping to arouse sexual desires, or perhaps it happens the next morning,” he said. “To me, I think if we change this law, a crime has been committed.”

Obviously, every relationship is different. The question in his hypothetical is how the couple previously and verbally agreed to give consent, and if they give consent in that exact moment.

He didn’t expand upon those points. Instead, he asked, “It gets to what does the sanctity of marriage mean?”…when you do get married, what does that mean? And what implied consent are you giving?”

If his scenario, specifically without consent or precedent in a couple’s relationship, is a “routine” for them, that’s problematic. Touching someone, with the intent to arouse them and without their consent is wrong in all circumstances.

We concur with Rep. Nick Hoheisel, R-Wichita, who said in a tweet, “A marriage certificate is not a license for an individual to sexually abuse or batter their spouse.”

As a side note, Rep. Paul Waggoner, R-Hutchinson, was another of the 13 “nay” votes.

The law change is simple and necessary. It’s a crying shame that the process to do so has taken so long.

Like we said in January last year, violence can happen to people close to you. Be aware of and alert your loved ones to potential red flags. Personal counseling and other resources are available and free to everyone on and off-campus. As always, know that you are loved and are not alone.

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