In M.C. v. Bulgaria the applicant contended that the Bulgarian legal framework de facto requires victims of rape to provide evidence of physical violence in order to obtain conviction of the alleged perpetrator. The European Court of Human Rights has found Bulgaria in breach of the European Convention of Human Rights for the failure to guarantee effective protection against rape from private individuals, as required by Articles 3 and 8 of the Convention. Having found that lack of consent must be the central element of the crime of rape, the Court contributes to the consolidation of an international definition of that crime and to the advancement of the protection against it. However, the Court’s reasoning raises some concerns as to the role of the Convention vis-à-vis domestic criminal law systems and as to the existence of a margin of appreciation in complying with obligations under Article 3.
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