Amending the Rape Laws | Sarah Stook


‘(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.’

-Sexual Offences Act 2003

‘He.’

It’s a definitive pronoun and one that is damning in our judicial system. Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, only a man is guilty of penetrative rape. If a woman coerces or forces a man into sex, it’s, well, not rape according to U.K. law. She simply isn’t seen as a rapist.

‘Causing a person to engage in sexual assault with consent’ is capped at 10 years inside, against a possible life sentence for penetrative rape. That is more like wishful thinking truthfully, as it is rare to see a case like rape or other serious sexual assaults actually be sentenced harshly. A woman can tie up a man and force herself upon him, but 10 years is her limit. That is blatantly wrong.

There should not be a gender discrepancy in our judicial system, in legislation or in general sentencing. Women may not always be favoured in sentencing legislation, but judges are far more lenient to them in general- they are more likely to either not get a custodial sentence or have a shorter one than men. 

It’s also deeply offensive to victims, both male and female, who are set upon by women. The idea that you can be violated so horribly yet see your attacker not be classed as a rapist is horrifying. It perpetuates the myth that violence against men by women is not as serious. If it’s against the consent of the victim, then it’s rape.

We see rape as strange men grabbing women in dark alleys, but it’s not true. Roughly 90% of victims of both sexes know their rapists. You are more likely to be attacked by a family member, friend or acquaintance. Imagine that happening to you, but the charge being lesser because it was a woman. 

Just because women make up a minority of rapists and men a minority of victims does not mean cases should be treated with less severity. Our body is so personal to us and nobody should be allowed to violate it. Rape is not about sex, it is about power. 

Is the government going to do anything about it? No. A failed petition to the government asked for women to be considered as rapists. The response was simply ‘it’s covered by sexual assault law’ and ‘we take it seriously.’

We all know sexual assault and rape is not taken remotely seriously by U.K. courts. The grooming gangs targeting vulnerable girls received measley sentences. A rapist who tortured his victim for seven hours is due out on automatic license after only five years. A lawyer for a man who molested and raped his daughter for nearly twelve years called his fifteen year sentence unfair and that he deserved less time for ‘immediately leaving the family home’ among others. 

We don’t need extra ammunition for those who don’t take it seriously. Rape is rape. It doesn’t matter if the victim is male or female. It doesn’t matter if the rapist is male or female. ‘No’ should be accepted and if it isn’t, then it’s rape. A truly fair and lawful society should protect all its citizens. It’s time for change.


Photo Credit.

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