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Shaun's Story

In September 1990, Shaun raped his wife. However, it wasn’t until 1991 that courts clarified that forced sex between a husband and a wife is rape (before that, the most well-known discussion of marital rape was in a textbook from 1822 that said “a man cannot be guilty of rape upon his wife”). In 1991, Shaun was found guilty of rape but he appealed this, saying it wasn’t a crime when he did it. However, the courts said that the law had not changed but had just been clarified, and that this was a foreseeable development. This therefore did not breach Article 7. The court also said, “the abandonment of the unacceptable idea of a husband being immune against prosecution for rape of his wife was in conformity…with the fundamental objectives of the Convention, the very essence of which is respect for human dignity and human freedom.”

(S.W. v UK 1995)

Key information


Right this relates to: 
Article 7: Right not to be punished without law

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