The deadline for prosecutors to appeal a judge's decision to acquit a Muslim man of sexually assaulting his wife has passed. It appears the ruling – that cultural and religious beliefs that he could have sex with her even when she was not willing trump secular Canadian law – will stand.
The now-divorced couple has not been identified. But Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Smith acquitted the Palestinian-Muslim husband, saying he "probably had sex with his wife on many occasions without her specific consent," but both believed their faith gave him that right. "as both he and she believed that he had the right to do so."
As we reported last week, Canadian law expressly requires actual consent, including from spouses, and specifies that not knowing the law is not a defense to breaking it.
The law gave the Ottawa Attorney General one month to appeal. There was little, to no public debate about the case, and no sign an appeal was filed.
This failure to act is alarming and means Ontario's government accepts a ruling which undermines the protections afforded by Canadian law to people vulnerable to sexual assault, It allows 'cultural' beliefs to supersede secular law. How is that acceptable in Canadian society?
The silence from Canadian opposition parties, both provincial or federal, or our self-described 'feminist' national government also is disappointing. Why were they silent?
These are questions that need to be asked and answered if the rule of secular law in Canada is to be preserved and protected.