Muslim Beats Rape Charge Claiming Religious Beliefs

A judge from Ontario’s Superior Court acquitted a man of sexual assault against his ex-wife because the couple believed that their religion allowed it.

The case involved two Palestinian Muslims who were brought together in an arranged marriage in 1989 and later moved to Canada.

Justice Robert Smith ruled that despite the lack of consent, the state could not prove that there was criminal intent behind the assault because of the couple’s religious beliefs. “I find that the accused probably had sex with his wife on many occasions without her specific consent as both he and she believed that he had the right to do so”, he said.

The wife testified that in 2002, her husband had grabbed her by the wrist, pulled her onto the couch and raped her, despite the fact that she had asked him to stop several times. She also testified that she didn’t learn that this was a criminal offence until 2013, after the couple had already divorced.

Section 273.1 of Canada’s Criminal Code defines circumstances where consent cannot be given as where “the accused induces the complainant to engage in the activity by abusing a position of trust, power or authority” and when “the complainant expresses by words or conduct, a lack of agreement to engage in the activity”.

Thailand criminal law states that anyone who “commits sexual intercourse with a woman who is not his wife, and against the latter’s will, by threatening her, or doing any act of violence, or by taking advantage of her being in a condition where there is less resistance” should be imprisoned for up to 20 years. Marital rape has been illegal in Thailand since 2007.

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