Sexual Violence and the Offence of Rape

Sexual violence has been a growing problem in the UK. There has been an increase in the number of recorded historic sexual offences. Rape, assault by penetration, sexual assault and sexual activity without consent are the most common form of sexual violence.

Rape

A person commits an offence of rape where he intentionally and without consent penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person with his penis and the perpetrator knows or reasonably believes that the victim has not consented. The Sexual Offence Act 2003 (Act) rightly or wrongly makes the offence of rape reserved for men only. A woman can be an accomplice but legally cannot commit the offence of rape.

The Act and the case law make it clear that the sexual intercourse or penetration is a continuous act and if the consent is withdrawn at any time before the completion of the sexual act and the preparator continues with the penetration, it will amount to a rape as the consent had been withdrawn at some time during the sexual activity.

Ejaculation

A slight penetration is all that is needed for the offence of rape and it does not require proof of ejaculation.

Forced Oral Sex

It is worth noting that the Sexual Offence Act makes a penile penetration of the mouth or forced oral sex rape as well.

Age

The Act makes it clear that Rape can be committed by the boys over the age of 10 years. Anyone under the age of 10 is deemed incapable of committing a rape.

Consent

The consent of the victim plays a major role in rape cases and it is important to understand that verbal and non-verbal messages can very easily be mistaken and often lead to misunderstanding. The Sexual Offence Act 2003 makes it very clear that a person only consents to sexual activity if she agrees by choice, has freedom and capacity to make that choice.

Legally a woman agrees to sex by choice provided she is not pressurised or coerced. If she has submitted to sex due to fear or agreed to sex without free agreement it will be deemed as rape due to the fact that she has not agreed to sex by a free choice.

Mental Incapacity

Mental incapacity of the women plays a significant role in rape cases. A person is considered without mental capacity where it affects her ability to understand the nature of sexual activity.   Common examples include drunkenness, ill health, immaturity, learning disability or any other age-related vulnerability of the victim. The mental capacity issue also gives rise to a separate offence of sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder along with rape and is likely to result in severe punishment.

Impersonation and deception

Where a person intentionally deceives the woman as to the nature or purpose of the sexual activity or induces consent by impersonating someone known personally to the women, for example, boyfriend or husband. It will amount to a rape as it gives rise to the presumption of lack of consent by the woman.

Sentencing Guideline

According to the sentencing guideline, the offence of rape carries a Maximum penalty of Life in imprisonment in severe cases and has a range of 4 – 19 years in non-severe cases. The exact sentence will depend on many factors including the actual harm inflicted on the victim, the age of the victim, culpability and mitigating circumstances.

 

Have a Question?

If you are affected by the issues raised in this article or have a legal query. You can ask our experienced lawyers any legal question free of cost.

Ask Now

Legalally

Your partner in the legal world!

Scroll to Top