What is Sexual Assault?
“Sexual assault is an act in which a person intentionally sexually touches another person without that person’s consent, or coerces or physically forces a person to engage in a sexual act against their will.”
It is commonly thought that in most cases of rape, the offender is a stranger. The truth is the majority of people who commit rape know their victims and, in some cases, are relatives, friends or work colleagues.
Sexual assault happens to people of all genders and sexualities but, about 92 percent of victims are female and 8 percent male.
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What are the different types of sexual abuse?
- Meaning of ‘Sexual’
- When is a Sexual Assault Committed?
- Assault by Penetration
- Penile Penetration
- Penetration of the Vagina, Anus or Mouth
- Marital Rape
The test provided by the section is objective in order to determine whether the touching is obviously sexual regardless of the circumstances for example:
Was the touching either:
- Obviously sexual or,
- Sexual by virtue of circumstances or purpose?
Sexual assault is committed if:
- He/she intentionally touches another person
- The touching is sexual,
- The person does not consent to the touching, and
- He/she does not reasonably believe that she/he consents.
Whether a belief is reasonable is to be determined having regard to all the circumstances, including any steps he/she has taken to ascertain whether the victim consents.
Assault by Penetration can be committed by both males and females. A person commits an offence if:
- He intentionally penetrates the vagina or anus of another person (B) with a part of his body or anything else,
- the penetration is sexual,
- B does not consent to the penetration, and
- A does not reasonably believe that B consents.
Whether a belief is reasonable is to be determined having regard to all the circumstances, including any steps A has taken to ascertain whether the victim consents.
A person has committed an act of rape if:
- He intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person (B) with his penis,
- The victim does not consent to the penetration, and
- He does not reasonably believe that the victim consents.
Whether a belief is reasonable is to be determined having regard to all the circumstances, including any steps he has taken to ascertain whether the victim consents.
Some examples of non-consent:
- The other person is not participating freely and readily.
- You have not confirmed with the other person verbally and have not checked their body language.
- The other person is on drugs or too drunk to make decisions.
- The other person is asleep or unconscious.
- The other person has the right to withdraw their consent at any time. Once consent is withdrawn you must stop engaging in sexual activity immediately.
It is worth noting that, other things can also affect a person’s capacity to consent. Examples include a serious mental health problem, learning disability or a head injury.
- As is above the definition of rape is restricted to penetration by the penis of the vagina, anus or mouth of the victim.
- While the offence can only be committed by a man a woman is capable of being an accomplice depending on the incident occurred.
- Following common law sexual intercourse is regarded as being a continuing act. This means that consent can be withdrawn at any time before completion.
- The law recognises that forced oral sex is ‘as horrible, as demeaning and as traumatising as other forms of forced penile penetration’.
- The law also defines the vagina as including the vulva.
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