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Sex, lies and legal consent: Can deceit turn sex into rape?

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Article here. Excerpt:

‘Lawrance’s defence barrister David Emanuel QC compared his client’s lie about the vasectomy to a woman lying about being on the contraceptive pill. He argued that if Lawrance were convicted of rape for lying about being infertile, then a woman could arguably be convicted of a sexual offence for a similar act of deceit.

Under current law in England and Wales, a woman cannot be prosecuted for raping a man because rape is defined under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 as an offence of penetration committed with a penis. Legislation in Scotland and Northern Ireland also specifies that rape is committed with a penis.

Ms Russell has a problem with the vasectomy and contraceptive pill comparison. “With issues around contraception and pregnancy, it’s the woman whose body and life and health is affected by that kind of lie,” she said. “That is not in any way comparing like for like, because it’s a woman who has to deal with the consequences of pregnancy and termination, and, in the example given, the impacts on the man are not of a comparable kind.”

But Ms Paul is not so sure. “The issue is the extent to which the lie vitiates (negates) consent,” she said. “If a man finds himself a father of a child under these circumstances, there are all sorts of consequences that flow from that.

“It might be argued there is a double standard. In so many walks of life we [women] have achieved equality and demand to be treated with the same level of respect as men. Where the lie deemed to create criminal liability is exactly the same, I think it is problematic to carve out areas where we are protected solely because we are women.”‘

This entry was first posted at Mensactivism.org on 27th October 2019.

2 comments on “Sex, lies and legal consent: Can deceit turn sex into rape?

Re “rape is defined under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 as an offence of penetration committed with a penis”

For that reason, I have argued that the offence of rape could and should be abolished in the UK.

Abolish rape!

About the substantive question, section 76(2)(a) of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 provides that “If in proceedings for an offence to which this section applies it is proved that the defendant did the relevant act and that [the following] … circumstances … existed, it is to be conclusively presumed … that the complainant did not consent to the relevant act, and that the defendant did not believe that the complainant consented to the relevant act. … The circumstances are that… the defendant intentionally deceived the complainant as to the nature or purpose of the relevant act …”

Contraception (or the lack of it) changes the nature of sexual intercourse radically for both participants, and closes off (or opens up) one possible purpose for it in the mind of a participant It would therefore appear that sexual intercourse following contraception fraud on the part of either party carries a potential life sentence.

This leaves a problem. If she pretends to be on the pill to trick him into fathering a child that she intends not to tell him she is expecting, and he suspects this, and therefore takes advantage of her, by not telling her that he has had a vasectomy, who is guilty of an offence, if either or both? Or if she pretends not to be on the pill, and he pretends to have had a vasectomy for that matter?


Just to be clear to readers who may not follow John’s link to his excellent article, the proposal is not to legalise rape. The point is that – like three US States so far – rape can be illegal under much wider and more encompassing sexual assault laws and does not need a specific law.

There are several advantages to this approach, including that someone can be charged with sexual assault without concern, at the time, of exactly what kind of assault took place. Another advantage is that all sexual crimes may be seen as such, without distinction to sex or ideology.

John’s article is recommended reading.

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