Real lives: Debate: Does unsafe sex against your will amount to rape?

YES

IT DOESN'T matter whether a woman knows the man, whether he was a date, a trusted friend or a partner, what matters is whether she consented to sex on that occasion. A woman in a case reported this week withdrew her consent when the man refused to wear a condom. He ignored her requests and carried on - so, in my view, he raped her.

The case confirms again that the way evidence is presented and judges direct are crucial. Juries are encouraged to decide not whether the woman was raped but whether she deserves the law's protection. Judge Goldstein said it was a case of "millennium mores" and told the jury to bring their experience of living in the Eighties and Nineties to bear on the verdict, as if rape is the price women pay for having more sexual freedom. Goldstein should be sacked because his comments perpetrate sexism and the discrimination women face throughout the criminal justice process, which gives men a licence to rape.

More women are reporting rape, but the conviction rate is falling. Women making a complaint are still likely to face sexist indifference or racism; inaccurate statements; ineffective gathering of evidence; inadequate and even brutal forensic medical examiners; notorious reluctance to prosecute by the Crown Prosecution Service; and in the minority of cases which reach court, a trial that many describe as the "second rape". No wonder only one in 12 women report rape, and only one in 200 rapes result in conviction. The fact that in this case the accused man was a policeman makes it worse because when women go to the police, they need to expect to be believed?

Accusing women of not knowing their minds, or sending "wrong signals", or having a propensity to lie conveniently hides men's refusal to take no for an answer and the justice system's refusal to prosecute them for it.

Over 200 organisations supported our call for an end to judges' discretion to allow irrelevant, discriminatory questions about women's sexual history in court. Bowing to pressure, the Government made some changes to the law, but loopholes still allow barristers to put women's private life on trial, argue that the man believed the victim consented, and so introduce sexual history evidence to support that belief - even about children.

Women should not go into the new millennium expecting another 1,000 years of rape - we are entitled to respect in sexual relationships, and won't accept less - from any man or judge.

Anne Neale is a spokeswoman for Women Against Rape.

NO

MR X AND MS Y are lovers. They go to a party at a pub. Half-way through the evening, X phones an old girlfriend. Y finds out and is upset. But later, she goes back to his room and they have sex.

Y wants X to use a condom. X, who is drunk, keeps going. But when Y starts crying he pulls out. They fall asleep. In the morning X promises to call Y. But he later meets his ex-girlfriend and forgets about Y. Twelve days later she tells the police she's been raped.

Would you convict Mr X? Last week, a jury of seven women and five men did not. Following the judge's advice to look at their experience of modern relationships, they took just two hours to deliver a not-guilty verdict.

Jack Straw is keen to find means of ensuring juries convict alleged rapists more frequently. So why did this jury easily conclude X was innocent? Well, the accuser had consented to having sex with Mr X so long as he wore a condom, and there was never a suggestion harm had come to her as a result of being unprotected.

Plus, he stopped. Mr X may have been slow to understand that no meant no. But his senses were dulled by drink. Should having sex when drunk become a criminal offence? Is even this Government nannying enough to start a "Don't drink and shag" campaign?

Perhaps it should. For X and Y were trapped in a collision between clashing social trends. First comes the increasing equality of promiscuity between men and women. Research suggests young Britons of both sexes drink, use drugs and copulate with more partners than virtually anyone else in the Western world. Young women take pride in being stronger, sassier than men.

So the idea women are innocent is absurdly outdated. Yet attempts to broaden the definition of rape to take in virtually any unwished-for sexual experience rest on the Victorian presumption that women are the weaker sex, whose chastity is so sacred any breach of it demands punishment. Equality be damned: women can impose conditions on sex and men have a limitless duty to obey.

Add to this an inclination to see any misfortune as victimisation, requiring retribution. Ms Y's post-trial comments, "I feel extremely bitter. I've been crying constantly," suggest someone who defines herself by her suffering and is devastated it has not been recognised.

Wouldn't she have been happier if she'd decided that X was a bastard, been savagely rude about him and got over it? Or could it be she wanted revenge for being led on and left for another woman? There's a big difference between sexual assault and bad sex. The jury recognised that and Mr X left court with his freedom. He may not have been a gent but - for the time being at any rate - that's not a crime.

David Thomas is author of 'Not Guilty: In Defence Of Men', Weidenfeld & Nicholson.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
education
News
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
news
Sport
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
News
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
science
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
News
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
i100
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    IT Project Manager

    Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    IT Manager

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London