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.

Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
filmDheepan, film review
Sport
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
sport
News
Tattoo enthusiast Cammy Stewart poses for a portrait during the Great British Tattoo Show
In picturesThe Great British Tattoo Show
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
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

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

    £40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer

    £35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

    Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

    Day In a Page

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?