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Pierre Genest Memorial Lecture; Rape in marriage; Australia


Professor Ngaire Naffine, The University of Adelaide, deliver the Pierre Genest Memorial Lecture at Osgoode Hall Law School on October 1, 2012 on the topic, "The Gorilla in our Midst: Inattentional Blindness to Sanctioned Brutality in Criminal Law".

Criminal law asserts a basic and universal human right to bodily integrity, but it has simultaneously declared husbands to be immune from prosecution for the rape of their wives. This fundamental tension in criminal jurisprudence persisted late into the twentieth century, with little comment from criminal legal scholars or jurists. Those who spoke up, tended to support the immunity. In May 2012, the Australian High Court revisited the immunity and questioned its very existence in Australia. However there was no Nuremberg moment in which this criminal legal wrong to married women was acknowledged and strongly condemned. Professor Naffine uses the Harvard experiment of the (unobserved) gorilla in the basket ball game to explain this "inattentional blindness" to sanctioned sexual violence at the heart of criminal law.

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