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.
Therefore, rape laws were created to "…protect the property interests men had in their women, not to protect women themselves" (Schelong, 1994).
This concept of women as property permeates current marital rape ideology and laws throughout the globe.
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.
This was illustrated most vividly by Sir Matthew Hale, (1609-1676), in his legal treatise Historia Placitorum Coronæ or History of the Pleas of the Crown (posthumously, 1736) where he wrote that "The husband cannot be guilty of a rape committed by himself upon his lawful wife, for by their mutual consent and contract the wife hath given up herself in this kind unto her husband, which she cannot retract." Sir Matthew Hale's statement in History of the Pleas of the Crown did not cite any legal precedent though it likely relied on earlier standards.