Time for change


Binge-drinking + rape = your fault


In Britain yesterday, a funny thing happened with the law. The High Court there threw out a case involving the rape of an unconscious and drunk student. Her attacker- another student working as a security guard- admitted to having sex with the woman but claimed she gave consent.

The prosecution- her prosecution- stopped after she admitted to being drunk. "Drunken consent is still consent," they said.

Here's the funny part. Why can't you have sex with a child? You may have heard recently about a teacher in Florida (25-years old) who had sex with one of her students (14-years). If convicted, she faces up to 30 years in prison, a lifetime banned from teaching, registration on a sex offenders list, and a whole bunch of other things. But why? I have no doubt in my mind that the teenage student gave his wilful (very wilful) consent. So what's the problem?

Because consent from a 14-year old or anybody else under the age of majority isn't really considered consent. These people are deemed unable to fully determine, to the best of their ability, right from wrong, good from bad, yes from no. That's something that comes with maturity. And so they are legally incapable of ever giving their full consent. For anything.

In the law, they use the term "mens rae" to describe this: the mental accountability and understanding of the act committed. Only when someone is of 'sound' mind and of sufficient intellectual ability (roughly equated to 16 years of age) can this be possessed. It's the only reason why the insanity plea ever works.

So how does an unconscious and inebriated woman- who obviously is unable to adequately determine right from wrong, good from bad, yes from no- how is she ever able to give consent for sex?

If you drug a woman, knock her out, and rape her, does her inability to speak mean that no crime was committed?

Tomorrow is White Ribbon Day, the international day to speak out against violence against women. If you or anyone else you know is currently in a situation of mental or physical abuse, contact your local authorities immediately. There are thousands of alternatives; none need involve any form of violence.

For a list of available women's shelters in Toronto and across Canada, visit: http://www.nellies.org/resources/shelters.html



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