Consent, a complex simplicity

There is an article in the Guardian, some will think it to be a decent piece, but I have an issue with it. There are all kinds of issues in the article, I cannot tell whether it was real, it did not feel as real. Whether it is or not is not really the issue. Yet there is an issue with it. Perhaps it is just me, but that issue is important, because the story touches on several issues, one that is close to my heart, as I was a witness for over a decade, unable to stop what had happened. Only to know, that he fled in fear, because one day, that one day that he saw me, the real me , it scared him all the way to South Africa, where he died of a Pneumonia, what a shame they likely got his prescribed anti-biotic dosage wrong, it must have made it worse. I had a great party celebrating his demise (seriously!).

The story by Monica Tan starts with a title ‘My boyfriend ‘sort-of’ raped me. But I didn’t break up with him‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/mar/05/my-boyfriend-sort-of-raped-me-and-i-didnt-even-break-up-with-him). My very first objection, there is no ‘sort-of’ it either was or it was not. The story as it is written is a mere introduction to a case that is not mentioned here. The case was ‘R (on the application of F) v The DPP [2013] EWHC 945 (Admin)‘, Here we see a review of the CPS as it has decided initially not to prosecute the husband. There was a realistic prospect of this case not resulting in conviction, the High Court took steps to order the CPS to look into the decision in this case. The issue before the High Court was whether ejaculation without consent could transform an incident of consensual intercourse into rape.

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 gives us in Section 1:

(1) A person (A) commits an offence if—
(a) he intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person
(B) with his penis,
(b) B does not consent to the penetration, and
(c) A does not reasonably believe that B consents

Yet when we look at the definitions of consent we see at S75(3)

Reference to the time immediately before the relevant act began is, in the case of an act which is one of a continuous series of sexual activities, a reference to the time immediately before the first sexual activity began“, the crux is that ejaculation comes after the consent of the act. Which explains the actions of the CPS, yet I was not alone looking at this. This is not a new case and Olivia Stiles, a trainee solicitor (in those days) at Kingsley Napley wrote this: “Penetration is a continuing act and so consent can be withdrawn even after penetration has begun and this will transform an act that begins as consensual intercourse into rape. Levitt was troubled by the facts of this case insofar as it was not clear at what point the intervener should have ceased to have intercourse with the applicant. Levitt’s view was that if the intervener embarked upon the act knowing he would ejaculate inside her against her wishes then it was arguable that he knew she did not consent. However, Levitt felt that as a matter of evidence it would be impossible to prove that it had not been a spontaneous decision made at the point of ejaculation“, Olivia’s article is good to keep next to the actual case, as for me, My issue is (as I see it) stated in S76. Here we see:

76 Conclusive presumptions about consent
(1) If in proceedings for an offence to which this section applies it is proved that the defendant did the relevant act and that any of the circumstances specified in subsection (2) existed, it is to be conclusively presumed—
(a) that the complainant did not consent to the relevant act, and
(b) that the defendant did not believe that the complainant consented to the relevant act

(2) The circumstances are that—
(a) the defendant intentionally deceived the complainant as to the nature or purpose of the relevant act;

So, she objected to the relevant act, she did NOT consent!

Even though it would be very hard to prove that the situation as such existed, there is a criminal event in play.

The article then continues with a reference to the Julian Assange sex issue of 2010, which is exactly what happened in ‘R (on the application of F) v The DPP [2013] EWHC 945 (Admin)‘. Yet here her story goes south in a bad way, she writes: “It was not rape, but my reaction was too involuntary, and its intensity too high, to say that nothing bad happened. Something happened. And it had the whiff of rape”. No! It either is, or it is not and the events as prescribed add up to non-consensual sex, making it rape, assault by penetration or causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent. The last one could land you in prison for life!

This all blends with the issue I have here. The quote “There is nothing more dangerous than shutting down public debate around sexual assault and domestic violence with a dismissive “lock the perpetrators up and throw away the key”. Such violence is rife in our society“. You see, some harsh changes are needed in the legislative sphere, it needed to be done yesterday and so far the law has been too soft as I see it. Domestic violence is more than a killer. When we look at the LWA (at http://www.lwa.org.uk/), we see that it accounts for 16% of all violent crimes and that it costs the public £23 billion per annum. These numbers might sound nice (or horrible), but that is not what this is about.

There needs to be much stronger legislation in regards to domestic violence. As I see it (and as I wrote before, in my article ‘Cleaning house!‘ on July 1st 2014). It is my firm believe that Article 3 of the ECHR should state:

ARTICLE 3, Prohibition of torture
1. No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
2. Domestic violence will be regarded as inhuman and degrading treatment of a person and is as such subject to local criminal law

Until a larger operation makes clear case in a legal way attacking domestic violence, making it a capital crime, a massive portion of the population remains at risk. So in my view, the article by Monica Tan is an issue on several fronts.

The quotes “Now that I’ve taken a small sip at the cup of rape” and “This is not my story of rape. But it is a story with rape-ish qualities” makes me object loudly. As I see it, she never took a sip of anything. Either she was subjected to rape or she was not. It is not to be trivialised in any way. Monica found a case that was an issue in legal terms. Even though the law tries to be protective, it was flawed. The CPS states “Consent can be withdrawn at any time during sexual activity and each time activity occurs“, I am all for that however, WHY does the Sexual Offences Act 2003 not clearly states this? The issues in the caser as mentioned earlier, the writing by Olivia Stiles showed this and above all, the fact that the article ‘CPS and police focus on consent at first joint National Rape Conference‘, written on the 28th of January 2015 discusses this (at http://www.cps.gov.uk/news/latest_news/cps_and_police_focus_on_consent_at_first_joint_national_rape_conference/), should be sustenance for discussion.

Monica Tan has now mixed two issues, issues that are clearly linked, but remain separate. The law is so bend on the sexual crime issues, making it all murkier, and again more powerful legislation needed to deal with domestic abuse falls behind again. I personally feel that if we can effectively lower domestic violence, it would also impact sexual offences as a whole. I personally witnessed as a kid for many years how my mother was beaten to near death again and again. I was too young and too late to protect her, but in the end I danced on my father’s grave (I did it to the Shaggy song ‘it wasn’t me’) in 2002.

As I personally see it, Monica Tan found an interesting case, added a picture of a woman looking distressed in bed added emotions and got a story out there. The legal ramifications on consent are interesting, but that is all, interesting! The issue of consent stays, and is still debated largely. I personally feel that taking the CPS event as a centre piece, illuminating that consent remains an issue would have been a lot better. You see, the heart of the matter was a clearly stated in the CPS article in 70 words: “Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said: “For too long society has blamed rape victims for confusing the issue of consent – by drinking or dressing provocatively for example – but it is not they who are confused, it is society itself and we must challenge that. Consent to sexual activity is not a grey area – in law it is clearly defined and must be given fully and freely” and guess what, domestic violence is NEVER EVER done with consent. There is always a transgressor and a victim!

That part must be dealt with, it should have been done so decades ago. If that had been done, than perhaps my mother might have been around to share in the pride, when I was added to the roll of attorneys, it was not meant to be!

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