Indian-American makes move to change California law on rape

Last Updated: Wed, Jan 09, 2013 10:13 hrs

Washington: Indian-American Attorney General of California Kamala Harris and State lawmakers have joined hands to overturn a 140-year-old law under which a rape would be considered only if the victim is married.

The move comes after a three-year-old rape conviction was overturned by a Los Angeles court last week because California's law would have only considered the woman a victim if she had been married.

"This law is arcane and I will work with the Legislature to fix it," said Harris, the first Indian-American and a woman to have become the Attorney General of California.

"The evidence is clear that this case involved a nonconsensual assault that fits within the general understanding of what constitutes rape," she said.

Appearing on the CNN, Harris said the lawmakers so far had been resisting any move to change this 1872 law -- passed seven years after civil war simply because this would increase the already overcrowded prison population of California.

"We will fix the problem. This is about a women who is raped and deserves justice," Harris said.

Existence of such an outdated law is quite contrary to the modern law of the State. California was the first American State to specify the use of chemical castration as a punishment for child molestation.

Kamla Harris is now joined by the State lawmakers.

Assemblyman K H "Katcho" Achadjian, who had unsuccessfully tried to change this law, and California Assembly Speaker John A P֩rez, reintroduced a bipartisan legislation yesterday to what they said, close an archaic loophole in state law and expand the definition of rape to include cases where a perpetrator deceives a victim into sexual activity by impersonating the person's boyfriend or girlfriend.

"Like every Californian, I was deeply disturbed by this decision, and my colleagues and I will work on eliminating this glaring loophole in state law and protect Californians from such a gross violation," Perez said referring to the case wherein the State Court of Appeals overturned a conviction in a 2009 Los Angeles County case where a perpetrator impersonated his friend and had sex with his girlfriend.

The Court last week overturned the initial conviction, pointing to an outdated provision in law in ruling that a person who impersonates someone is guilty of rape only if the victim was married and the person pretending to be their spouse.

"Californians are justifiably outraged by this court ruling, and it is important that the Legislature join together to close whatever loopholes may exist in the law and uphold justice for rape victims," Achadjian said.

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