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.
In the US, the wife's legal subordination to her husband was fully ended by the case of Kirchberg v. English common law also had a great impact on many legal systems of the world through colonialism. Marriage was traditionally understood as an institution where a husband had control over his wife's life; control over her sexuality was only a part of the greater control that he had in all other areas concerning her.
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.
Marital rape (or spousal rape) is the act of sexual intercourse with one's spouse without the spouse's consent.
It is a form of domestic violence and sexual abuse.