One of the driving forces behind the creation of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 was the low conviction rate on rapists. In 1999 9,008 rape cases were reported and only 1 in 13 resulted in a conviction . Within this essay I will discuss whether or not the changes introduced by the Sexual Offences Act 2003 add greater clarity to the area of rape. In order to fully understand this question one must first define rape. The standard definition of rape is “unlawful sexual intercourse with a woman who at the time of intercourse does not consent .” I say standard because with each Sexual Act the definition of rape has changed in some way. When rape was first introduced as a statutory offence in the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 it simply stated that ‘it is a felony to rape a woman .’ The Sexual Offences Act 2003 now defines rape as the ‘intentional penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth of another person who does not consent .’ Each Sexual Offences Act attempts to further clarify the area of rape. The main change in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 has to deal with the definition and the area of consent. The Sexual Offences Act of 1956 elaborates to a great extent on the area of rape; it goes more in depth where rape is concerned than the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.The Sexual Offences Act 1956 states: “Rape of a man or woman
(1)It is an offence for a man to rape a woman or another man. (2)A man commits rape if—
(a)he has sexual intercourse with a person (whether vaginal or anal) who at the time of the intercourse does not consent to it; and (b)at the time he knows that the person does not consent to the intercourse or is reckless as to whether that person consents to it. (3)A man also commits rape if he induces a married woman to have sexual intercourse with him by impersonating her husband. (4)Subsection (2) applies for the purpose of any enactment. ” Like Offences Against the Person Act 1861, this act also failed to clarify or to give further direction on the matter of consent. Thus, it was still up to the “judiciary to determine the constituent elements and develop the factors that might vitiate an apparent consent. ” In 1975 the case of DPP v Morgan prompted Parliament to amend this act in order to attempt to clarify the area of consent. The amendment to this act is found in the Sexual Offences Act 1976. This act states: (1)For the purposes of section 1 of the M1Sexual Offences Act 1956 (which relates to rape) a man commits rape if— (a)he has unlawful sexual intercourse with a woman who at the time of the intercourse does not consent to it; and (b)at that time he knows that she does not consent to the intercourse or he is reckless as to whether she consents to it; and references to rape in other enactments (including the following provisions of this Act) shall be construed accordingly. (2)It is hereby declared that if at a trial for a rape offence the jury has to consider whether a man believed that a woman was consenting to sexual intercourse, the presence or absence of reasonable grounds for such a belief is a matter to which the jury is to have regard, in conjunction with any other relevant matters, in considering whether he so believed. ” In the case of DPP v Morgan the husband invited three friends over to have intercourse with his wife. He told them that she might be acting like she was resisting but she was actually just role playing. Though the wife struggled against them they still had sex with her because they were under the belief that she had consented. They were tried with rape. The judge’s remark to the jury simply was if you believe that the wife did not consent then the defendants belief that she did indeed consent is not a defense. They were all convicted of rape. Due to the confusion caused by this case section 1(2) (as shown above) of the Sexual Offences Act 1976 was created. This gives a definition of mens rea in regards to consent . Although this act tried to further clarify consent and...
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