Putting Time Limits on Rape
Time Magazine has an article about the differing laws in various states on whether a man can be convicted of rape if the female consents, and then during intercourse, she changes her mind.
The answer depends on where you live. The highest courts of seven states, including Connecticut and Kansas, have ruled that a woman may withdraw her consent at any time, and if the man doesn't stop, he is committing rape. Illinois has become the first state to pass legislation giving a woman that right to change her mind. But in Maryland--as well as in North Carolina--when a woman says yes, she can't take it back once sex has begun--or, at least, she can't call the act rape.
The Maryland case is under appeal.
If the law doesn't recognize a woman's right to say no during sex, [victims' rights advocates] say, there is no recourse for a woman who begins to feel pain or who learns her partner isn't wearing a condom or has HIV. Those who are wary of these measures say they're not arguing against having a man stop immediately when a woman no longer wants to have sex, but with how to define immediately.
That is totally illogical to me. If it starts to hurt, or there's no protection, and he doesn't pull out, it may be unwanted sex at that point but it's not rape. Let's not trivialize real rape to accomodate definitions of consensual sex gone awry. Make up a new crime for that if it's going to be illegal. But to brand someone as a sex offender for life, require sex offender registration, submit them to possible life sentences? Come on.
I also don't agree that the problem is with the word "immediately." It's with the communication of the initially consenting person's demand for cessation. Only if the demand for withdrawal was clearly and unequivocally communicated to the partner, who then forcibly continued, should it be construed to be forced or unwanted sex. I wrote more about that here.
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