A Canadian man, originally from Gaza, Palestine, was recently found 'not guilty of rape' because he believed it was his right to have sex with his wife whenever he wanted.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Smith made the ruling after the prosecution failed to prove that the man had known that his behavior was a criminal act, according to the BBC, despite the fact that the non-consensual sex took place more than once.
The wife is of Palestinian origin and grew up in Kuwait. The two were part of an arranged marriage.
"Marriage is not a shield for sexual assault," Judge Smith wrote in his decision.
However, the judge let the man go after the prosecution failed to prove that the man had criminal intent, known in legal terms as "mens rea".
The couple testified that they both thought a husband was "legally entitled to have sex with his wife whenever he wanted," the BBC reports.
Non-consensual sex between the two happened numerous times
The wife reported that she had sex a number of times with her husband without explicitly giving her consent.
The woman learned that she had the "right" to refuse sex with her husband after the two separated in 2013.
That's when she told the police about an incident that took place in 2002.
She told the police that her husband "had pulled her onto the couch, pulled down her pants and had sex with her despite pleading with him to stop at least three times".
Subsequently, her husband was charged with marital rape. However, he told the court that he was not able to engage in sexual intercourse at the time due to a hair transplant.
The judge rejected his account but still could not find him guilty of a crime.
Activists and feminists were outraged at the ruling
Carrolyn Johnston, acting executive director of the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women, told the BBC that "any sexual contact without explicit and ongoing consent is sexual assault - regardless of the relationship".
"He may have believed that he had a right to have sex with her as her husband, but Canadian sexual assault law is clear and was amended to include sexual assault against a spouse in 1983."
People on social media, too
Over three decades later ...
"Misogyny is everywhere"
Sarcasm was used to deliver a point
In 1983, Canada made marital rape a crime
In 1983, Canada passed a law that officially made marital rape a crime.
The law came into effect under Bill C-127, which made sexual assault against one's wife an offense.
The term "rape" was removed from the Criminal Code and replaced with sexual assault.
"The intention behind the change in terminology was to avoid the moral stigma connected to the word 'rape' and to stress the violent nature of the act," according to the Toronto Rape Crisis Center.