Government is run by sensible people, in the main. Or so we like to think, any way. Unfortunately, sometimes issues and crimes – sometimes even serious crimes – slip through the cracks and there are a number of laws that either are not in place, or took an unconscionably long time to put into place. Read on for ten shocking legal facts that seem unbelievable:

1. ‘Nuptial Rights’

Nuptial Rights

It is fairly well known that in the bad old days, men pretty much owned their wives and children, having full control over the entire household. This included being able to demand and get sex whenever he wanted it from his wife. While most men are decent beings who respect the woman they married and who would never press the issue, there are some who persisted, raping their spouses whenever they felt like it and feeling justified in doing so. Now, not only was this a disgusting crime against humanity, no matter what the legality of the matter is, but you might be shocked to learn that it took a long, long time for such actions to be outlawed. Legal record on the matter begins in 1736, when a recorder claimed that the crime could not be a rape as the woman had given implicit consent by marrying the man – consent that she could not then withdraw. This belief was widely seized upon, and was confirmed in the legal tomes, Archbold, published in 1822 in which it was stated that a husband could not be guilty of a rape upon a wife. And thus matters remained until 1991, when the House of Lords pooh-poohed the concept of irrevocable consent upon marriage. The statutes were set in 2003, when rape within marriage was explicitly included in the Sexual Offences Act. The USA, that bastion of hope and freedom, was not much better, only making marital rape illegal in 1994…

2. Votes for Women!

votes for women

Do we really still need feminism? Don’t women today have it all? These questions are commonly heard by people who have lived their whole lives secure in the knowledge that women of their generation and nationality have all the rights, duties and freedoms of their male counterparts. However, two minutes’ research reveals shocking disparities in women’s rights, from the right to vote and determine their own path in life, to simple actions like being able to drive, go to university and so on. While most first world countries have equality enshrined on paper, there is little being actively done to promote this, meaning that man-dominated structures continue hiring men, paying them more, and ensuring that the regulations work against encouraging women to advance. One fact that might shock many of these people is the fact that Switzerland, traditionally known as a more liberal and woke nation, only gave women the vote at the federal level in 1971!

3. Spare the Rod…

corporal punishment for children

Hitting children is wrong. This is widely known and accepted now, and there are generations of children who were never corporally punished raising their own children now. But laws on smacking and beating your children are shockingly lax, with many countries assuming that parental love will stop matters from going too far… Even liberal, forward-thinking countries have ‘reasonable chastisement’ laws, allowing some form of corporal punishment for children.

4. Keep Wife in Her Place

Keep Wife in Her Place in russia

Sadly, Russian law seems to be taking several steps back for every step forward that the rest of the world takes. They recently (January 2017) relaxes domestic violence laws, allowing men to ‘slap’ their wives should they deem it necessary. Needless to say, this has been abused by abusive men who control their wives with financial constraints, menace and the constant threat of legally mandated violence against their persons…

5. Suffer the Children

suffer the children

In the USA, there are stringent rules surrounding the management and operation of day-care centres. There must be a certain number of adults: such as one assistant to every five children or two babies, for example; all must be trained in child care, first aid, and a number of other useful skills. This is all fine and dandy – except for one thing. This law is waived if you are running a religion-based child care centre. Children have already died from this lack of governmental oversight – a toddler managed to climb up and fall into a baptismal font, drowning, because the centre was overcrowded with only five workers to look after fifty or sixty young children – but they did not get shut down. No, they just lost their eligibility to claim tax-payer-funded vouchers for their ‘services’.

6. No Central Database

no central database for teachters in the usa

In the UK, anyone wanting to work at a school, or premises where children are regularly to be found, must have a criminal records check. Teachers and head-teachers are also required, by law, to report any incidents involving sexual offences, including those regarding fellow teachers. In the USA, this is not the case. There is no centralised body overseeing teaching personnel, and often incidents are not reported. Instead, the offending predator is fired or allowed to resign, which leaves them free to get another job in another school, to begin their predatory behaviour all over again. A man was recently – finally – arrested for inappropriate touching instances, only for investigators to discover that he had been let go from FIVE different schools in the last ten years for identical crimes.

7. A Cool Clean Drink of Water

no drinking water
Barbara Kalbfleisch /

The world was horrified when the issues facing the people of Flint in Michigan made international news: they had no clean drinking water because supplies were contaminated with deadly lead. By the way, at the time of writing, Flint still does not have a clean water supply, and some 2,000 water samples from all over the USA showed horrifically high levels of lead. Not only that, but there are no laws in place to protect waterways and supplies of fresh clean drinking water. Instead, multinational companies are buying up ‘water rights’ and taking all the water that feeds communities and cities. They then bottle that water and sell it elsewhere, or – cynically – back to the community from which it originated in the first place. Humans need air and water to live dignified and comfortable lives: high time legislation outlawed these greedy corporations and their venality.

8. Jurisdictional Gaps

Jurisdictional Gaps

The provision of Native American reserves that are autonomous was intended as a boon to native tribes, allowing them to live according to their ancient laws and customs. However, the legal language around these settlements mean that the Native American judicial system cannot take action against non-native people. So if a Native American woman is raped, for example – used as an example as their have been several specific instances of this crime being committed in just this way – by someone from off the reservation, even if witnessed by other members of the reservation, they cannot take any action against the man. Instead they have to call upon a small and underfunded branch of the FBI – the nature of the offense makes it a federal crime – who will investigate as and when they can. Which is often late and far too little, seeing rapists walk away from their crimes with total impunity. Perhaps it is time to expand the remit of the reservations powers?

9. I Cannot Lie

I Cannot Lie

We have come a long way from George Washington and his peculiar bent for truth, and politicians today seem to lie blatantly and then when caught out or questioned about their untruths, they double down on them! This is because most governmental systems operate on an honour system: they did not think it needed to be enshrined in law that one should be honest, moral and scrupulous – it was a given! Given the state of the world, it is definitely overdue for an overhauling of the requirements of fitness for public office!

10. It’s Not all Black and White

Not all Black and White

This one might shock you: interracial marriage was still illegal in Alabama until 2000. As shocking as this sounds, it seems that civil rights issues aren’t quite as settled as they should be: following on from laws allowing businesses and churches to deny service to LGBT couples and customers, some churches have begun to deny service to mixed race couples because their love goes against their so-called religion. This is another area that needs protective legislation to be issued, asap!

Which of these laws or lack of laws shocked you the most? Do you know of any other equally appalling legal voids? Let us know in the comments.

Menno, from the Netherlands, is an expert in unearthing fascinating facts and unraveling knowledge. At Top10HQ, he delves into the depths of various subjects, from science to history, bringing readers well-researched and intriguing insights.

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