Stevie Martin | Staff Writer | Thursday, 29 January 2015

Accused Of Rape? You've Got To Prove Victim Consented, New Guidelines Say

The Debrief: This is a gamechanger, guys

As part of new guidance set to bring rape trials into the 21st century (finally), anyone accused of rape will have to prove that the victim consented to sex. It will certainly revolutionise the way rape cases are handled, and quite possibly, the numbers of date rapes occurring. 

Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, has announced the guidance to courts which says that, when the victim is high or drunk, their ability to provide consent will be questioned à la Ched Evans case – in which the footballer raped a 19-year-old girl who was described by hotel staff as seriously drunk.

Saunders also added that consent should be questioned when the accused is in a position of power – such as a teacher, employer or doctor – or the victim suffers from mental health problems, is asleep or unconscious during the time of the attack.

For example,  no more ‘but she said yes after having drunk 900 glasses of wine and was unable to stand up’ excuses for men deciding to take advantage of women in vulnerable states.

READ MORE: So Rape Was A Big Topic At The Golden Globes

‘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,’ said the DPP at the first National CPS/Police Rape Conference on Rape Investigations and Prosecutions, held at the CPS’s London headquarters yesterday, reports The Telegraph.

‘It is not a crime to drink, but it is a crime for a rapist to target someone who is no longer capable of consenting to sex through drink. These tools take us well beyond the old saying “no means no”. It is now well established that many rape victims freeze rather than fight as a protective and coping mechanism.

‘We want police and prosecutors to make sure they ask in every case where consent is the issue – how did the suspect know the complainant was saying yes and doing so freely and knowingly?’ she said.

Finally, guidance that takes into account the thorny issues surrounding rape, and how a victim reacts. Just because they’re frozen and aren’t yelling ‘NO PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS’ does not mean that they’re consenting.

Sexually active adults need to take responsibility for who they’re sleeping with, and this new way of prosecuting promotes a ‘don’t have sex with someone you’re not 100% sure is up for it’ situation, which is something we should all applaud. 

READ MORE: Lena Dunham Reveals She Was Raped In College

Take the Ched Evans case. Under this new guidance, it’s unlikely that the footballer would have raped a girl too drunk to consent, considering he knew she’d wake up and probably have no memory of what went on – and that he’d probably go to jail and lose his  career.

Even if he believed it wasn’t rape, and that she wanted to have sex with him at the time, that is so not the point. The point is, that she was in a state whereby she couldn’t make an informed decision. And for anyone yelling, ‘Well, women shouldn’t get so drunk then’, we wearily point out that a lot of men get blind drunk regularly and don't have to fear rape anywhere near as much.

So should men not get so drunk either? Should we ban alcohol in case some arsehole decides to force people to have sex against their will? This new guidance will help all rape victims, regardless of gender, to get a conviction at a time when rape convictions are scarily low in comparison to the increase in rape crime reports.

With these new guidelines, and with the emphasis on proving consent, everyone benefits. Except the morons who can’t tell what ‘Yes I’d like to have sex’ looks like.

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Follow Stevie on Twitter: @5tevieM

Picture: Li Hui  

Tags: Rape