What is rape?
Many of the women who call us often ask “was it rape”? Below are some legal deﬁnitions of a few offences which are classed as sexual violence. There are many more than the ones listed.
Rape is unwanted sexual intercourse (penetration by the penis of the vagina, anus or mouth) that you did not consent to. This includes forced sex by a partner, husband, friend, family member, or acquaintance, whatever their relationship to you, if you did not consent it is rape.
‘Consent’ is deﬁned as an agreement by choice, the person must have had the freedom and capacity to make that choice. If a person threatens your safety, if you were unable to consent through drink or drugs, if you were asleep, if you did not agree to have sex then this is rape.
ASSAULT BY PENETRATION
Assault by penetration is when a person’s mouth, vagina or anus is penetrated by something other than a penis, in a sexual way, without consent. Penetration may be by an object e.g. a vibrator, bottle etc, or part of the body e.g. ﬁnger or tongue.
Sexual assault is the touching of someone, in a sexual way, without their consent. This used to be called indecent assault.
CAUSING A PERSON TO ENGAGE IN SEXUAL ACTIVITY
Is when someone forces or manipulates a person to witness or participate in any sexual acts, such as masturbation, or watching or acting out pornography.
For more information on sexual violence go to: www.rapecrisis.org.uk/rapeampsexualviolence2.php
For legal advice for women go to: www.rightsofwomen.org.uk/adviceline.php
More information about the legal deﬁnitions of sexual violence can be found here www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/42/contents
Used with the kind permission of Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Service.