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Policies -Gender bias - redifining rape

New sexual offences law redefines ‘consent’ in rape cases

A new sexual offences law came into force last week to deal with new offences such as drug-assisted date rape to paedophile ‘grooming’.

“Until now our sex offences laws were based on the Victorian era - their values and the world they lived in,” the Home Secretary, David Blunkett said. “All crimes are traumatic for victims, but sexual crimes can have the most devastating impact on the individual and the community. The modern world of the internet means vile, degrading material is just a click away and mass communications can make it easier for offenders to contact vulnerable people and the young.”
The new Act clarifies the law on consent in rape cases so that a defendant’s belief that the victim consented “must be both honest and reasonable”. The definition of rape has also been extended to include penetration of the mouth by the penis. Sex with 12-year-olds and under will automatically be charged as rape - carrying a maximum sentence of life. A new ‘grooming’ offence is introduced and so anyone convicted of contacting a child – “whether on the Internet or in the real world” - with the intention of committing a sex offence will face up to 10 years in jail. The new law requires all those on the sex offenders' register to confirm their details in person annually, it also strengthens drug rape offences and make orders banning those convicted of a sex offence against under-16s from traveling anywhere in the world. There is a new offence of trafficking people for sexual exploitation with up to 14 years in prison for offenders.
The Act deals with the inequality in the law for men and women and offences of buggery and indecency between men are now repealed. There will also be guidance provided to the prosecutors that charges for sexual activity between children under the age of 16 are unlikely to be in the public interest where the activity is genuinely consensual and the parties are of a similar age.
Meanwhile, a 15-year old boy convicted of having unlawful sex with a consenting girl when they were both aged 15 has won permission to launch a human rights challenge in the High Court, arguing that the law discriminates against males under 16. The teenager E, from the Llandudno area, will ask the court to declare the 1956 Sexual Offences Act incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. Lord Justice Maurice Kay, sitting with Mr Justice Moses, ruled the challenge should go to a full hearing and took the view there was “at least an arguable possibility of incompatibility” between the Sexual Offences Act and the Convention.
Sexual Offences Act 2003

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