Saturday, July 01, 2006

Should Someone Given The Charge To See A Woman Safely Home Be Able To Claim Consent?

I believe the answer should be no. Unfortunately, not all courts agree, including one in Britain.

Guardian (hat tip to Blank Noise Project)

The 22-year-old drama undergraduate (Judith is not her real name) became a cause célèbre. Her allegation was that she was attacked by a fellow student at Aberystwyth University, a man who was working as a part-time security guard and had been asked by a member of university staff to walk her home. But after admitting under cross-examination that she could not remember if she had refused or given consent for sex, the prosecution offered no further evidence. 'Drunken consent is still consent,' the judge said. He instructed the jury at Swansea Crown Court last November to return a verdict of not guilty. 'Even,' he told them, 'if you don't agree.'


'I went outside and this woman who worked at the venue said "I'm going to get somebody to walk you home." I was quite insistent I wanted to walk home by myself because it was a five-minute walk across campus and not dangerous at all, but she went off to get somebody. When she came back with a man, she said: 'This is so-and-so and he's going to walk you home' and I said; "OK".' Judith confesses she doesn't emember anything about the walk. Admitting that now makes her ashamed.

I will say with 100% certainty that a rape occurred. This man, who was a part-time security guard, was given the responsibility to see this woman safely back to her residence. That puts him in a position of power over a vulnerable woman. He likely hoped that she wouldn't even remember that she'd been raped.

The woman, a university employee, who located him shouldn't have had to explicitly tell him he couldn't have sex with the woman he was supposed to see safely home.

Just as we wouldn't accept (I hope) that a motorist can't consent to sex with the policeman who pulls her over for speeding, we shouldn't accept that a woman drunk enough to need assistance to get home can consent to sex with the man assigned to walk her home.

For this man to even attempt sexual contact is a violation of the duty he'd been given by a member of the university staff. For the prosecutor to fail to point this out to the judge and to the jury shows how blind people can be to the reality of this situation.

If this man is still working as a security guard, many other girls and women are in danger.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 8:15 AM   0 comments links to this post


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