What’s Current: Man acquitted for sexual assault of wife because he thought he could have sex with her anytime

What’s Current is Feminist Current’s daily news roundup.

  • Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Smith acquitted an Ottawa man charged with sexually assaulting his wife. The judge ruled that, although he found the victim’s testimony credible, the prosecution failed to prove the accused knew his behaviour was criminal.
  • A joint Toronto Star/CBC investigation looks at the fallout from mistakes made by the Motherisk lab at the Hospital for Sick Children. Child protection agencies across Canada used results from the hair tests performed by the lab to justify removing women’s children from their care — sometimes permanently.
  • The Thompson Reuters Foundation has published their list of the most dangerous megacities for women. It’s the first international experts’ poll on how females fare in cities with over 10 million people.
  • On Wednesday, a federal judge in Texas ruled that a pregnant, undocumented teenage girl who is in immigration detention has the right to access an abortion. This morning, lawyers for the Trump administration asked an appeals court to stay the decision, arguing that “the government is not required to facilitate her abortion.”
Lisa Steacy
Lisa Steacy

Lisa Steacy is an Assistant Editor at Feminist Current. She has a B.A. in Women & Gender Studies from the University of Toronto. However, the women she met in her five years as a frontline worker and collective member with Vancouver Rape Relief & Women’s Shelter deserve almost all of the credit for her feminist education. She lives in Vancouver with her partner and their cats.

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  • melissa

    First story, wtf. So by that logic can you get away with wife beatings, FGM or honor killings too if you say you didn’t know it was against the law?

    • TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsYoya

      In what the hell other crime is this a defense? This is an outrage. I hope the decision is appealed and the judge disciplined!

    • dr__pepper

      The Steve Martin defense.

    • catlogic

      Yes, whatever happened to “ignorance of the law is no excuse”?

    • Polly MacDavid

      When I was still quite young … my father told me that “ignorance of the law is no defense”. I must have said I “didn’t know” or something like that. But that stayed with me & when I took law, I did find out that was true. Of course, I’m in the States, but I find it amazing that an Ontario judge would rule like this. Here in WNY, we view Ontario as a more civilized place.

  • Hekate Jayne

    First story:
    ” The judge ruled that, although he found the victim’s testimony credible, the prosecution failed to prove the accused knew his behaviour was criminal..”

    Really.

    Rapists say that consent is really, really confusing. So now “I didn’t know it was rape” is yet another way of getting away with it?

    Isn’t that what all rapists say? In essence? That they really just didn’t know that it is wrong to have sex with a passed out woman? Or a woman saying No? Or a 4 year old?

    Males love to rape, and their systems will always protect them.

    • lk

      When I read the story, my first thought was “what is wrong with the Canadian justice system?”..

      Then I realized: 1, this is certainly not unique to Canada and 2, nothing…the justice system works for people in power (men, people with money) and against those without…and this case is just reflective of that..the system works just as people in power want it to work.

      “But when they separated in January 2013, the woman learned that she she had the right to refuse sex with her husband.”

      This line really jumped out at me.

      We live in a world where women and girls don’t even realize that we have the right to say no to sex, that we have the right to pick and choose when we want or don’t want someone to touch us.

      Between religion and liberalism, woman are really being taught that our bodies really do belong to men.

      • Hekate Jayne

        In my state last year, a woman was raped by her ex husband, who showed up at her house, angry about whatever males are so angry about all of the time.

        He demanded sex. She said no. In true male form, he threatened to hurt her.

        So she did what males have demanded we do for time eternal. She agreed to have sex with him to avoid even more violence(CONSENT! CHOICE!), and he got violent during the sex, at which point, she demanded that he stop.

        Of course, he kept on raping her.

        She went to the police, and his defense attorney found a state law that claimed that consent can’t be revoked once it is given. So once we say yes, then the male can do anything that he wants and chooses. And of story.

        And it is not just my state. A cluster of states in the south have this law. And when women demanded that the law be changed, the (male) legislators found various reasons for keeping it, my personal favorite being that there were much more important things for the legislators to be doing, there was simply no time to focus on a silly old rape law.

        Laws (And government in general) does not protect us. It protects MALES. Most of the law was written when women were still property of males, which is why sexual consent laws mimic property laws, in general.

        We need to understand this. Because this is a problem that we are able to solve, but only if enough of us understand and acknowledge it.

        • lk

          “Most of the law was written when women were still property of males, which is why sexual consent laws mimic property laws, in general.”

          This is an interesting point that I had not thought of. Yes, the laws need to be changed..but there is this entire idea underpinning too many cultures-that women are really male property-either through marriage/religious ideology or bdsm/porn/prostitution ideology.

          I just want their to be an entire cultural shift where women being male property is not viewed as a good thing..its really disturbing how much this old idea of females as male property is now being presented as new, progressive and empowering.

          • Hekate Jayne

            In one of her books, Andrea Dworkin talked about law. She questioned whether or not women should be subject to follow laws that were not meant for them.

            We pay taxes into a male government that actively harms us. In the states, president pussy grabber has defunded a lot of women’s programs and is working on finishing off birth control and abortion access. Our government is over 80% white and male, and the orange Cheeto is making it whiter and maler, with every job he fills.

            Second wave women were not afraid to move completely around males. Jane is the best example of this.

            Because if we ignore males, just move around them and do what women need to have done, males begin to shit themselves. It is not easy and there is some risk. But when males see us ignoring them, that leads to separating from them, just as a natural progression. They see this, and they begin to behave.

            Too many of us are afraid of them. And that is completely justified and understandable. But fear is how males control us. If we can’t get past that, then everything stays the same.

  • It’s been known for decades that hair analysis is unreliable.

    • Hekate Jayne

      In the states, we have had cases where mothers are told that if they don’t submit themselves and their minor children to a drug test, that the male state will take her children.

      There was one particularly egregious case where the mother consented (out of fear of losing her kids if she didn’t consent) and they cathederized her infant son.

      Public outcry was huge on that one. I guess because it was a male baby, and completely unnecessary.

      These are just more punishments. Punishment for being poor, having kids, just punishment for being female.

  • will

    That judge needs to be removed from the bench for incompetence.

    • Hanakai

      Yeah. Like since when has ignorance of the law been a defense to a crime?

      • Kiwipally

        Yeah, IANAL but I would have thought the mens rea was the intent to have non-consensual sex.

  • Kiwipally

    And the judge needs to be removed from the bench.

  • Karen Eisen

    It’s a bit off-topic, but I’m not convinced new Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh opposes religious law over Secular law. In other words, if a community wants to set up a neighbourhood where Sharia Law, or Christian Law, prevails, he feels it is up to the community. Other NDP Leaders, such as Jack Layton, Mulcair and MP Guy Caron were more explicitly pro-Secular. Also, Singh supports prostitution and legalization of drugs. It’s not Singh’s turban that bothers me – it’s that he is supported by religious groups; pro-prostitution groups; and pro-drug groups. Look at the niqab issue – we have gone from Mulcair’s: “Why punish the victims who are pressured to wear the niqab?” to “Women are choosing to wear the niqab.” I know Mulcair supported decriminalization of prostitution, but I don’t believe Mulcair really did – he was pressured to support it. Singh is different. Singh believes in “human rights” rather than “women’s rights.” Again, it’s off topic, but a concern of mine.

  • shy virago

    This is exactly how it is.

  • Christine

    “[T]he government is not required to facilitate her abortion.”

    But… the government provides sex-change operations for inmates.

    I am all for prisoners’ rights, but… HOW BACKWARDS IS THAT?