The European Court of Human Rights ruled Wednesday that husbands can be convicted of rape for forcing their wives into sex.
The court’s 13 judges unanimously rejected arguments by two British men that they could not be accused of rape because they were married at the time they tried to force their wives to have intercourse.
The judges upheld prison terms of five and three years ordered by British courts for the two men.
The men, unnamed in court documents, contended British courts had violated their civil rights because British law defined marital rape as a crime after they committed the incidents.
But the court ruled that British law and social norms have long since evolved to the point where marriage no longer provides immunity against rape charges, especially when couples are separated or intend to divorce.