Added: October 25, 2000 – Last updated: May 23, 2015


Author: Constance Backhouse

Title: Nineteenth-Century Canadian Rape Law 1800-92

Subtitle: -

In: Essays in the History of Canadian Law (Vol. 2)

Edited by: David Flaherty

Place: Toronto

Publisher: University of Toronto Press

Year: 1983

Pages: 200-247

ISBN-10: 0802033911 – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: 19th Century | Canadian History | Prosecution: Laws


Link: -


Author: Constance Backhouse, Faculty of Law - Common Law Section, University of OttawaAuthor's Personal Website, Wikipedia

Abstract: »The history of nineteenth-century Canadian rape law lends insights into the values surrounding sexual assault, the comparative development of English and Canadian law, tensions between the courts and legislature, and the status of women during the period. In the early 1800s, to rape a woman was considered a crime against male property. Rape was criminalized to the extent that it damaged a woman's potential reproductive function, and was thus defined as sexual intercourse with ejaculation. The law slowly began to turn away from a proprietary view of rape by eliminating requirements for ejaculation, hymen rupture, and finally penetration. Lesser sexual assault offences were created. The reformed Canadian criminal law paternalistically painted women as vulnerable, corruptible and needing the legislature to protect their chastity. As Canadian rape law moved from property to paternalism, courts applied new laws conservatively. Judges were motivated by their own expectations of a chaste woman's behaviour, fear of false complaints by women who had consensual sex, and an unwillingness to extend the law's protection to women who were not of virtuous reputation. Spousal immunity from criminality was an exception to the reforms that had eschewed characterising women's sexuality as a man's property.« (Source: Social Science Research Network)

Editions: Backhouse, Constance. »Nineteenth Century Canadian Rape Law, 1800-1892.« Essays in the History of Canadian Law. Vol. 2. Edited by David Flaherty. Toronto 2012: 200-247.


Abbeah, Will. Ontario Lawyers Weekly (December 1983).

Adams, Bradley. Ontario History 20 (1982).

Guth, Delloyd. UBC Law Review 18 (1984): 407-412. – Full Text: HeinOnline (Restricted Access)

Kettler, David. Journal of Canadian Studies - Revue d'études canadiennes 19(3) (Winter 1984): 150-164.

Kiralfy, Albert. International & Comparative Law Quarterly 33(2) (April 1984): 506. – Full Text: Cambridge Journals Online (Restricted Access), HeinOnline (Restricted Access), JSTOR (Restricted Access)

McLaren, John P.S. The Canadian Bar Review 62(4) (December 1984): 707-718. – Full Text: Canadian Bar Association (Free Access)

Osgood, Russell K. Law and History Review 2(1) (Spring 1984): 161-164. – Full Text: Cambridge Journals Online (Restricted Access), HeinOnline (Restricted Access), JSTOR (Restricted Access)

Parker, Graham. Archivaria No. 18 (Summer 1984): 277-279. – Full Text: Simon Fraser University Library (Free Access)

Schabas, Paul. University of Toronto Faculty of Law Review 42(1) (Winter 1984): 126-128. – Full Text: HeinOnline (Restricted Access)

Smith, Allan. The Canadian Historical Review 65(2) (June 1984): 292-293.

Wikipedia: Laws regarding rape