Sunday 22 October 2017

Yes, real life is messy - but there can be no grey areas around the issue of consent

'For far too long, we have blamed rape victims for confusing the issue of consent, by holding up levels of drunkenness, length of skirts and past sexual histories.' (stock photo)
'For far too long, we have blamed rape victims for confusing the issue of consent, by holding up levels of drunkenness, length of skirts and past sexual histories.' (stock photo)

Lorraine Courtney

Imagine living in a country where one in every three women experiences some form of sexual violence. Of those women, just one in 10 reports it. From there, there's a 1pc to 2pc conviction rate. Scarily, we already live there.

We learned this week that a definition of consent will be included in the new Sexual Offences Bill. The new laws to be introduced by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald will make it clear that a person is incapable of consenting to sex if they are asleep or unconscious or if they are mistaken about the identity of the other person.

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone, an Independent, also secured Government approval to review the "honest belief" defence in rape cases. This is when the accused must be acquitted if he can persuade the jury that he fully believed consent existed.

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