13 Jan 2010

Rape Victims Suffer Another Blow

I'm completely aghast, almost rendered speechless, by a Court's decision to find men not guilty of rape due to a woman's fantasies.

The entire system of justice for rape victims is wholly undermined by this one judgement.

The finer details of the case are currently unavailable, but from the BBC and Bolton News the synopsis is that the woman in question mentioned on MSN chat logs that she would consider multiple sexual relations with strangers.

She met the principle offender on the Internet and agreed to meet him. When she arrived he had friends with him.

"She alleged she wanted to just have sex with him, but was then raped by the others. " (BBC)

So, apparently having fantasies, or speculating about casual sex SUPERCEDES saying NO?

Or perhaps it is reasonable to infer if a woman is prepared to have sex with one man, then she must be willing to have sex with ALL men?

The legislation on Rape is seemingly clear cut. Penetration without consent.

The victim asserted she did not consent.

As far as I am concerned, the evidence she had discussed fantasies is irrelevant. The fantasies were abotu group sex, not about "rape" fantasies.

Therefore section 1 (3) of the Sexual Offences Act 1976 cannot be interpreted as the victim had mentioned she would be willing to have group sex, so her consent was undermined.

For years women have campaigned against social perceptions of "asking for it", against conceptions that men are entitled to Conjugal rights (see R v R 1991, authority for a husband to commit rape on his wife), and there has been legislation in place to rpevent defence lawyers exploiting a woman's sexual history as an exccuse for a man raping her (Criminal Justice Act 2003(s14) Bad Character).

But in the past decade these rights of women have been slowly erroded by case law in the UK.

Societal myths have not been challenged when women are considered liable for rape if they are drunk.

Statistics on rape are terrifying enough when a woman does not have to worry that speculation of fantasies may feature.

The victim is likely to be shamed into not appealing and this law will stand.

Anyone speculating about casual sex now ought to be aware that although their sexual partners can only be mentioned if similar fact evidence (see above), their conversations can be submitted to infer things that simply are not true.

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