Divorce: French woman ‘at fault’ for ending sexual relations with husband

By

A 66-year-old woman has lost all her appeals in France against a divorce case ruling that she was at fault in the collapse of her marriage after refusing to continue to have sexual relations with her husband. This month she submitted an ultimate appeal before the European Court of Human Rights in what may prove a watershed case on the notion of “conjugal duty”. Marine Turchi reports.

Reading articles is for subscribers only. Subscribe now.

“It’s a sentence from another era, it scandalises me,” said Barbara (not her real name). “I live with it as a denial of justice.” Last September, France’s highest appeals court ruled in favour of her husband in their bitter divorce battle, arguing that Barbara was the faulty party in the case because she had refused to have sexual relations with her husband. The ruling was grounded on an archaic interpretation of common law and jurisprudence constante. This month, with the support of feminist associations, she filed an ultimate appeal before the European Court of Human Rights.