New Sexual Assault Law: Without Consent, Sex is Rape

New Sexual Assault Law: Without Consent, Sex is Rape February 4, 2013

The new Sexual Assault law is being criticized in a lot of areas, but some of its provisions may bring cheer for women.  It puts the decision for sex being consensual on the victim squarely.  If the victim  says it was not consensual, it wasn’t.

On consent for sex, the woman’s word will be the last one. Once the prosecution is able to prove that there was sexual intercourse in a wide-range of cases, the new sexual assault law requires the court to presume that the victim did not consent as claimed by the accused.

The law defines consent as an “unequivocal voluntary agreement” when the person by words, gestures or non-verbal communication communicates willingness. That the victim did not physically resist rape shall not be regarded as consenting to the sexual activity.

Besides police officers, hospital staff and remand home officials, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance has widened this safeguard to presume absence of consent for victims where the alleged rapist was a relative, guardian, teacher, a person in a position of trust or authority or who had “economic or social dominance”.

A government official said this provision would cover sexual assault by superiors at the work place, domestic helps, and backward classes in a rural area. (link)

That is a step forward certainly.  Although it could mean misuse as well, just like the Dowry law has been misused.  But to end the brutalization of women, such a safeguard is a must.

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