A man in Canada has been found not guilty of raping his wife as he was under the impression he was allowed to have sex with her whenever he desired.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Smith said the prosecution failed to establish if the accused man knew if his behaviour was criminal.

He went on to add: “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.”

The court heard that the man was part of an arranged marriage in Gaza. His wife grew up in Kuwait having moved there from Palestine. They decided to settle in Ottawa after marriage.

The woman came to understand she had the right to refuse sexual intercourse with her husband after speaking to a police officer in 2013 over a dispute regarding child arrangements when the couple separated.

She then made allegations of rape stating that in 2002, her husband pushed her onto the couch, pulled off her pants and proceeded to have sexual intercourse with her, despite her explicitly telling him to stop three times.

Her husband denied the rape charges and told the court he could not have had sex with her at the time because he had just undergone a hair transplant and his doctor had told him to abstain from sex for two weeks after the operation.

The judge however dismissed his claims, explaining there was no evidence to show it was standard medical practice to abstain from sex in such cases.

Nevertheless, the judge said he could not find him guilty of a crime.

“Marriage is not a shield for sexual assault,” Smith wrote in his decision. “However, the issue in this trial is whether, considering the whole of the evidence, the Crown has proven the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The verdict has left campaigners furious, with the Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women calling the ruling “disappointing”.

The organisation’s acting executive director Carrolyn Johnston, said: ‘Any sexual contact without explicit and ongoing consent is sexual assault — regardless of the relationship.

“He may have believed that he had a right to have sex with her as her husband, but Canadian sexual assault law is clear and was amended to include sexual assault against a spouse in 1983.”

What are your thoughts on this? Do you think he should have been jailed? Let us know in the comments below.