In a captivating twist that could be straight out of a legal drama, we dive into a story that’s stirring up the French judicial pot and making waves all the way to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). 

Picture this: a French court, in a move that screams medieval drama, slaps a woman with a fault in her divorce for… wait for it… refusing to engage in conjugal duties with her husband. 

Yes, you heard that right – in 21st century France, no less!

Now, let’s peel back the layers of this anachronistic onion. 

The French civil code, a relic from 1804, has these seemingly innocuous articles – 212, 215, and 242 – talking about mutual help, respect, fidelity, and a communal life among spouses. 

Sounds pretty standard, right? 

But here’s the kicker: some judges, channeling their inner 19th-century selves, have interpreted this as a sort of “you owe me” in the bedroom department. 

Some law specialists have weighed in, highlighting the religious undertones of these interpretations.

Fast forward to 2019, and the Versailles Court of Appeal finds this woman at fault in her divorce, citing her refusal to participate in marital intimacy as a grave violation of these duties. 

Now, that’s a plot twist worthy of a legal thriller! 

And here’s where it gets even more intriguing: in France, marital rape was criminalized in 2006. 

So, the paradox is as clear as day: refusing sex is a civil fault, but forcing it is a criminal offense. Talk about a judicial jigsaw puzzle!

The story takes a turn for the dramatic as the woman, backed by feminist groups Fondation des Femmes and Collectif féministe contre le viol, takes her case to the European Court of Human Rights. 

They’re throwing the book at the French ruling, calling it an interference in private life and a violation of physical integrity. 

The ECHR had already banned the notion of marital duty back in 1995, making this case a legal showdown of epic proportions.

But wait, there’s more! 

This isn’t just a one-off case. 

There have been about ten similar cases in the past 20 years, even one where a husband was faulted in 1964 and another in 2011 where a court ordered a husband to pay €10,000 for insufficient sexual relations. 

It’s like a legal telenovela with a twist at every turn.

In a statement that could be the tagline of this whole saga, Mattiussi legal experts emphasize the need to evolve the civil code and ditch this outdated concept of marital duty. 

So, buckle up, legal eagles, because this case has been challenging the very fabric of marital rights and could potentially turn the page on a controversial chapter in French judicial history​.

As the curtains close on this judicial spectacle, it’s clear that the French woman’s case against the outdated notion of ‘marital duty’ is more than just a legal battle; it’s a rallying cry for modernizing archaic laws that blur the lines of consent and personal autonomy within marriage. 

This case is not just about one woman’s struggle but symbolizes a broader fight for rights and respect in marital relationships. 

Whether the ECHR will rewrite this script or uphold the status quo remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: the world is watching as France grapples with the intricate dance of law, liberty, and love in the 21st century.

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Sources:

https://www.leparisien.fr/sentinelles/devoir-conjugal-sanctionnee-pour-avoir-refuse-de-coucher-avec-son-mari-elle-en-appelle-a-la-justice-europeenne-18-03-2021-TSJSNBRCVNGLJLGNQGRYNCECGE.php

https://virage.site.ined.fr/fichier/s_rubrique/20838/lettre.onvf_12_violences.au.sein.du.couple.et.violences.sexuelles_nov.2017.fr.pdf
https://fondationdesfemmes.org/
https://www.echr.coe.int/documents/d/echr/Guide_Art_12_ENG
https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/codes/texte_lc/LEGITEXT000006070721/

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