Legislation & Lobbying

New Jersey Repeals Old Laws Punishing Cheating Women, Allowing Quickie Marriages for Accused Rapists

Two New Jersey laws described as a “demeaning relic” of older times are no longer on the books.

Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation last week that repeals outdated and obsolete laws, including two that embodied sexist attitudes toward women, report NJ.com and the New Jersey Law Journal.

One law provided that a wife forfeits her marital property rights if she is unfaithful. In the words of the statute, a wife gives up rights to “jointure or dower” if she has consented to “being ravished”—unless the husband voluntarily reconciles and permits his wife to live with him.

The other law gave a man arrested for raping or having sex with an unmarried woman the right to an immediate marriage license, provided the would-be husband consents. The law waived the traditional 72-hour waiting period.

A 2007 report by the New Jersey Law Revision Commission described the outdated statutes as “a demeaning relic.”

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