Category Archives: Anti-BDSM

QotD: “What Women Think About When They’re Having Sex”

It’s not really fair to judge a book by its cover, but why does a book called Women on Top of the World: What Women Think About When They’re Having Sex have to come in various shades of Mattel pink, inside and out? Is this subliminally to suggest to any man picking it up that it really isn’t for him? If so, that would be a great shame because this is a book that really should be pressed into the hands of a generation of young men who have learnt everything they wanted to know about sex but were afraid to ask from porn.

Women, I suspect, will find the testimonies of the 51 respondents from around the world, selected by Lucy-Anne Holmes (a writer who among other things was responsible for the campaign against Page 3 girls in The Sun and is now training to be a “sacred sexual priestess”), rather depressing. Indeed, if any woman out there is feeling that she has been missing out on a dalliance during lockdown, she would be well advised to avoid this book, because an alarmingly high proportion of the women interviewed are not having any fun in bed at all.

Take Melanie, 19, from the UK, who thought sex was going to be “spectacular . . . but I had no idea how awkward it would actually be”. Or Vi, 25, from India (“I used to think pain was a part of sex”), or Rose, 25, from the US (“I’ve never had an orgasm with a man in my entire life”), or Lisa, 29, from Austria, who echoes many of the interviewees when she says: “I have been with too many men who have watched too much porn, and I used to go ahead with what I thought they liked to do, rather than saying to them, ‘If you do that again, I might throw up.’”

The really tragic theme in this book is how many of the women in it have been scarred by sexual abuse. Usually it has happened in childhood at the hands of an uncle, a family friend, a brother — Zaye, 36, from Malaysia, starts her chapter saying that her guy friends call her a nympho, but then says that the reason she is so sexually active is that she was abused by her brother from the ages of 7 to 12. Generally the more sexually active the interviewee, the more likely it is that she will admit to some history of abuse. There is no introduction to this book, so we don’t know on what basis Holmes selected her subjects, or indeed how she went about questioning them, but even if this sample is possibly skewed towards women who have been abused, it is hard to read the book without feeling not arousal but anger.

Of course, during sex not all women are thinking about whether they have left the gas on; some, especially those who are not heterosexuals, seem to be enjoying themselves just fine. Maria-Libra, 26, from the Philippines, says: “When I was with a guy, I didn’t really experience the highest level of climax I am experiencing now. I feel like with guys it was average, but now (with a woman) it’s so much better.”

Jennifer, 39, US/UK and a trans woman, says that since her testosterone levels have been suppressed with hormones she has “much less sex, but when I do, it’s a really special experience; it takes longer and is sensitive and emotional. I don’t really miss the way I used to have sex.”

The women in this book come from all over the world, but it doesn’t matter whether you are from Iran, Lebanon or Tanzania, everyone wants more kissing and cuddling. Nobody complains about too much foreplay, except for Ling Ling, 38, from China, who “doesn’t like snogging. You see it in the movies, but I don’t understand why they do it . . . I’ve said this to my husband; he hates me saying it and I feel like a terrible person, but kissing is like a tumble dryer going around and around.”

Ling Ling, though, is really the exception — another reason why this would be an ideal Valentine’s present for a man. Even Grace, a 26-year-old sex worker from Australia who enjoys her work, really wants to find someone she can “connect with on a physical and emotional level”. But escort work is better than casual sex. “I didn’t make any money and I didn’t fall in love, what’s the point?”

The most touching story comes from Wambui, 32, from Kenya, who underwent FGM in 2000 and was told: “You no longer have a clitoris now you’re a woman.” She was abused as a teenager, attempted suicide and then married a man who died three months after their wedding, and her first thought was: “Phew, I don’t have to have sex any more.” But after restorative surgery and counselling she feels “like it was a rebirth, an instant shift; like my sexuality was handed back to me in an envelope.”

Holmes has done an admirable job of including women of every sexual preference; there are women who masturbate with 200 other people, women who cuckold over the internet, mothers who find it difficult to be a mother and a lover, tantric sex practitioners, and pensioners who use Tinder but worry about their knees on the kitchen floor. Generally, the older they are the more confident — Vivian, 70, from the US, says: “I thought the idea was to be in love, now I just want what I want when I want it.” Sadly, there are too many in this book just waiting for it to be over.

(source)

QotD: “In fact, ‘vanilla’ readers may come away from reading these stories with a diminished regard for BDSM practice, given the levels of neuroticism, selfishness and vanity that the various characters display”

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful,” thought one of the editors of this new anthology at the outset of her project, if a collection of highbrow stories on BDSM (bondage, domination, sadism and masochism) “could live together in one book, in the kind of book that could sit on artists’ residencies’ library shelves?” Well, wonderful or not, that dream has now been realised, and the result is this volume, containing 15 stories by an assortment of eminent writers — all contributors to some of the most prestigious literary magazines in the world.

The stories are intended as an antidote to a popular culture that typically represents BDSM practice as either pathological or ridiculous, and kinky people as either “stock villains or exaggerated figures of fun”. In an act of rebellion against these stereotypes, the reader of this volume is encouraged to “take kink seriously”, recognising it as a “complex, psychologically rich act of communication . . . as one of the tools we use to make sense of our lives.”

It is something of a surprise, therefore, to find the content of the stories to be so very stereotypical. We have former Catholic schoolgirls with a torturously repressed desire to be whipped, dominatrixes with shiny leather boots and severe haircuts, and gay men drawn towards acting out traumatic childhood experiences of homophobia.

A wealthy man — a gallery curator, of course! — finds within himself an intense desire to dominate women, and when his poor wife won’t accept being handcuffed, he sets off to find himself a mistress who is willing to go around in public wearing a stainless-steel collar. We are, I think, supposed to see this man as a progressive maverick, given his taste for putting on “exhibits on poverty and homeless”, despite the objections of his gallery’s board. But, to me, he sounds very much like both a “stock villain” and an “exaggerated figure of fun”.

Despite the authors’ best efforts to represent kink as deliciously naughty, the experience of reading this anthology is rather monotonous. Although there are small variations in narrative detail, the erotic details are much the same in every story: spit licked off shoes, bruised buttocks, leather paraphernalia, and so on, and so on.

In the final story, the iconic writer and filmmaker Chris Kraus comments perceptively on the repetitive nature of BDSM: “There is no experimental theater in sadomasochism. That’s why I like it. Character is completely preordained and circumscribed. You’re only either top or bottom. There isn’t any room for innovation in these roles. It’s a bit like what Ezra Pound imagined the Noh drama of Japan to be: a paradox in which originality is attained only through compliance with tradition.”

To Kraus, then, a lack of “innovation” is the point. But, to more “vanilla” readers, the allure may well be hard to understand.

In fact, “vanilla” readers may come away from reading these stories with a diminished regard for BDSM practice, given the levels of neuroticism, selfishness and vanity that the various characters display. A common theme across many of these stories is not adventurousness or creativity, but rather affluent boredom, as characters attempt to plug a feeling of general dissatisfaction with a brief erotic thrill.

Louise Perry, continue reading here

QotD: “Vanilla is the new frigid”

Knife play, choking and rough sex have found a home on FreakTok, but the line between sex positivity and sexual violence is becoming blurred.

“When he claims he’s freaky but won’t drag a knife across your skin… it’s funny how people have become pussies all of a sudden”.

Welcome to #freaktok, one of the darker corners in TikTok’s labyrinth maze of subcultures and alternative communities. Where #thriftflipping clothes or #astralprojecting into an alternative dimension doesn’t cut it, users instead like to brag about rejecting ‘normal’ sex.

And it doesn’t seem to be niche. At the time of writing, #Freak has over 1.2 billion views. #ChokeMe has 45.3 million. While a lot of this content is innocent, it is easy to find far more sinister videos. One, of a girl encouraging her reluctant boyfriend to choke her, has 1.1 million views. Another, of a user mocking viewers for being quote-unquote vanilla has 78,000 likes.

“Vanilla is the new frigid,” says 19-year-old Lily from Buckinghamshire. After leaving a comment on a video of a boy mocking his girlfriend for not being into choking, Lily came under fire. “I wrote something like ‘not wanting to be choked doesn’t mean you’re boring’ and I ended up being called out for it,” she says. “People kept saying that I didn’t know how to have a good time and that I obviously wasn’t comfortable with my sexuality.”

As a result, Lily began to question her own preferences. “I started wondering whether this was what sex-positive people did and that maybe I just didn’t understand what ‘good’ sex looked like,” she says. “I found myself defending my own preferences because people weren’t open to the idea that I actually liked ‘normal’ sex.” In the end, Lily deleted her comment because the replies were becoming increasingly personal.

17-year-old Mina from Arkansas had a similar experience. After sharing another user’s TikTok referring to the problem of glamorising rough sex, Mina was met with accusations of kink-shaming; calling her a prude and a snowflake. “There were a lot of negative responses,” she says, but none of them were a huge surprise, with her peers now deeming choking and strangulation as being more acceptable than vanilla sex. “I’ve seen people I know push themselves to seem like they enjoy really extreme things just to be part of the in-crowd. The type of sex you have has become this huge competition,” she says.

For Fiona MacKenzie, founder of campaign group We Can’t Consent To This — a group formed in response to the increasing violence exhibited against women during sex — the trend is worrying. “Young people are being told that everyone is doing this,” she says. The social pressure means that women in their teens and twenties now are being told that not enjoying being slapped or choked is abnormal. “It’s a default expectation now.”

In the process of shaming people, the boundaries between consensual sex and sexual violence risk being blurred. “People’s negative experiences are being diminished because people dismiss them as simply having vanilla preferences,” Fiona says. Lily agrees, arguing that the difference between being empowered to have the sex you want and being the victim of violence is ignored. “Somebody even messaged me saying that ‘women deserve to be hurt’.”

Alarmingly, videos that glorify sexual violence are also extremely popular on TikTok. There’s videos romanticising domestic abuse, the ‘psychotic boyfriend’ trope and even the ‘things girls want but won’t ask for’. Last summer TikTok was forced to remove some content under the #365days hashtag after users used it to display bruises obtained during sex or footage of grabbing their partners by the throat.

Given that a recent survey of UK women between 18-39 found that 38% have experienced unwanted spitting, choking or slapping during consensual sex, it is concerning that the normalisation of these behaviours is being confused with consent. With uses of the “rough sex defence” in homicide cases increasing 90% in a decade, it is clear that we need to address how sexual violence is increasingly being mistaken with sexual liberation.

[…]

Dr Gail Dines, President of Culture Reframed — an organisation that addresses the effects of hypersexualised media on young people — blames porn for the problem. “Pornography is the biggest form of sex education,” she says. And with 88% of the most-watched porn scenes containing acts of physical aggression against a woman, there’s nothing to tell young people that this is not the norm. Mina agrees. “People are watching porn and are becoming desensitised to anything ‘normal’ before they have experienced sex themselves,” she says.

(source)

QotD: “The traumatic weekly task of searching for her assault videos on these sites”

A victim of drugged rape on Pornhub & Xvideos sent me this screenshot of how she would do the traumatic weekly task of searching for her assault videos on these sites. Xvideos just disabled the search terms but not all the videos.

Laila Mickelwait on twitter

QotD: “Let’s take the glamour out of TV crime drama”

How do you dramatise a murder without glamorising the murderer? The Investigation (BBC4), a Danish drama about the death of Swedish journalist Kim Wall, has a radical solution: it turns her killer into a faceless, nameless void. Ms Wall disappeared in 2017 after interviewing and taking a trip with an amateur submariner in Koge Bay, south of Copenhagen. The series focuses on dogged police efforts to retrieve her dismembered corpse from the sea and, amid the accused’s ever-changing story, to reach the seemingly extraordinary level of proof required by Danish law.

Although this is an infamous case, The Investigation does not once name the killer. (So neither will I.) Nor does it dramatise the interrogations, always the exciting centrepiece of a police procedural, thus denying a murdering narcissist the thrill of a charismatic actor speaking his words. Through the grief of her parents, however, Kim Wall infuses the story.

What a contrast with The Serpent, the BBC drama which portrays Charles Sobhraj, the 1970s “Bikini Killer”, swanning around with a glamorous wife in swimming-pooled luxury wearing designer shades. Sexy dead girls — whose families no doubt still mourn — are dragged semi-clad down beaches. There are Serpent playlists on Spotify so you can chill to that poisoned backpacker vibe. How Sobhraj, who revelled in toying with the police, must smirk in his prison cell. The Investigation, no less gripping for its restraint, leaves you oddly uplifted by the gargantuan effort to secure justice for a single woman. While The Serpent just left me queasy at its glib marketing of murder.

Janice Turner

QotD: “A ban on killers using the “rough sex defence” in England and Wales is set to become law after MPs supported an amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill”

A ban on killers using the “rough sex defence” in England and Wales is set to become law after MPs supported an amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill.

The bill now rules out “consent for sexual gratification” as a defence for causing serious harm.

The wide-ranging legislation will also place a duty on councils in England to provide shelter for victims of abuse.

It has been broadly welcomed by campaigners but some said it failed to protect groups such as migrant women.

The bill, which covers England and Wales, has passed its final stage in the Commons and will now be debated in the House of Lords.

It was introduced with cross-party support by Theresa May’s government in July last year but its passage was delayed by December’s general election.

The government said the bill would ensure that children who saw, heard or experienced the effects of domestic abuse would be treated as victims under law.

It would also introduce the first legal government definition of domestic abuse, including economic abuse and coercive or controlling non-physical behaviour.

Speaking in the Commons, Home Office minister Victoria Atkins said one of the most “chilling and anguished” developments in recent times had been the increased use of the “so-called rough sex defence”.

Moving a new clause which would ban the defence in England and Wales court proceedings, she said: “We’ve been clear that there is no such defence to serious harm which results from rough sex.

“But there is a perception that such a defence exists and that it is being used by men, and it is mostly men in these types of cases, to avoid convictions for serious offences or to receive a reduction in any sentence where they are convicted.”

[…]

Campaign group We Can’t Consent To This, which wants to make it the expectation that murder charges will be brought against those suspected of killing a person during sex, has hailed the amendment as a “victory”.

The current law says that if someone kills another person during sexual activity they could be charged with manslaughter alone, while to murder someone, there needs to have been an intention to kill that person or to cause them grievous bodily harm (GBH).

We Can’t Consent To This has collated 60 examples of women “who were killed during so-called ‘sex games gone wrong'” in the UK, since 1972.

The group claims that 45% of these cases ended in a “lesser charge of manslaughter, a lighter sentence or the death not being investigated as a crime at all”.

There are also 115 people – all but one of whom were women – who have had to attend court where it is claimed they consented to violent injury, the group has said.

Harriet Wistrich, director of the Centre for Women’s Justice, described the bill as “a landmark piece of legislation”.

However, she said there were “some very important omissions”, including protections for victims of domestic violence who committed crimes in the context of being in an abusive relationship.

Other campaigners have said the legislation needs additions to better protect migrant women.

Gisela Valle, director of the Latin American Women’s Rights Service, said the bill had no provision for safe reporting mechanisms, meaning migrant women who reported abuse to police could be questioned about their immigration status and even detained.

Additionally, some immigrants with an insecure status cannot currently access public funds or housing and refuge support.

Ms Phillips also raised the issue of victims of domestic abuse who are migrants and have no recourse to public funds.

She told the Commons “it cannot be right” that “humans, who when they have been raped, beaten, controlled and abused, before we ask them how we can help, first we ask what stamp is in their passport”.

Ms Atkins said the government was launching a £1.5m pilot fund to support migrant victims of domestic abuse who are unable to access public funds.

(source)

QotD: “The clause added by the government rules out ‘consent for sexual gratification’ as a defence for causing serious harm”

The amendment outlawing the “rough sex” defence will be added to the Domestic Abuse Bill today, as it enters its Report Stage in the House of Commons. The clause added by the government rules out “consent for sexual gratification” as a defence for causing serious harm, in England and Wales.

Labour’s Harriet Harman, who led calls for the law change, has told the BBC a serious review of cases dropped because of the “rough sex” defence is an “incredibly important” next step for the justice system.

“I’m seeking a meeting with the Director of Public Prosecutions because they’ll need to issue new guidance for cases going forward. I think they should look back – there’s enough evidence of cases where [the CPS] have taken as read the rough sex gone wrong defence and therefore not prosecuted.

“The whole system is failing victims. Rape is such a serious crime, a violation of a woman both physically and mentally, it is important defendants are brought to justice.”

The opportunity to have their cases retrospectively reviewed could result in a new wave of justice for victims whose cases never made it to court.

The campaign group We Can’t Consent To This campaigned for the “rough sex” defence to be outlawed. They found that over the last decade, 60 women in the UK had been killed by men who claimed in court the women were “consenting” to the violence. In 45% of these cases, they found the defence led to a lesser charge such as manslaughter or no crime at all.

While the “rough sex” defence has typically been associated with the murder trials of women, like the killing of backpacker Grace Millane, it also includes assaults involving serious harm.

BBC Three has found four cases in 2020 so far where “consent to rough sex” was claimed in court to charges of rape and sexual assault. And 17 cases over the last five years.

We Can’t Consent To This thinks the justice system will be unable to tell how many cases have been dropped because of the “rough sex” defence. Moving forward they want the CPS and police to start collecting this data and report any failings. “It can’t be left to us”, they add.

[…]

The Centre for Women’s Justice say if the government requested the CPS and police review all sexual violence cases dropped because of the “rough sex defence”, this would grant the “exceptional circumstances” needed for victims to appeal their decisions.

Anna Mazzola, a human rights solicitor for the Centre, says “we’re increasingly seeing the CPS refusing to bring cases, even when they appear to be strong cases.

“It would be very helpful if the review was ordered – there is certainly mileage in looking at all of the cases where the CPS or police have decided not to prosecute on the basis that the defendant might claim the rough sex defence and working out whether those cases were correct.

“We’re aware of some very concerning decisions, but those are only cases that have come to us, so it’s quite possible that lots of these cases are going under the radar.”

The CPS said claims a victim had “consented” to an assault does not stop them from prosecuting: “Tackling violence against women and girls has long been a CPS priority, and one we remain strongly committed to.”

Full article here

QotD: “Here’s what’s about ethical porn: it doesn’t matter. It makes up such a tiny proportion of the industry, it’s like putting a chicken in your back garden and claiming you’ve fixed factory farming”

Whenever I agree to write about porn, it’s followed by an immediate plummeting of my soul: oh God, I’m going to have to look at PornHub now. PornHub is the second biggest website in the world for adult content by traffic, but in terms of public profile, it’s far and away the leader. And PornHub is horrible. For example, I just checked in on the homepage and was greeted by multiple clips promising mini-versions of Flowers in the Attic. Ugh. Why am I here? Oh yes, to find out if PornHub will let me search for racist porn.

Not that I really have to search. In the homepage thumbnails, everyone is white, unless their race can be sold as a kink. Japanese wife. Chocolate. In the sidebar, I can click on the category “interracial”, because this is 2020 and apparently two people of different skin tones getting down is still as niche an interest as “babysitter” or “smoking”. “Female orgasm” is also a category, for that subset of men who are interested in whether a woman actually enjoys it. Have I mentioned, I hate PornHub.

But I am a brave journalist, so I press on. (Is this sex? Do people like this? Are women people? No, we are sluts and milfs and bitches, according to PornHub.) Will PornHub let me search for racist porn? Spoiler: it will. I put the word “racist” in the search bar, and am served multiple videos, all of which are definitely racist.

Some of them, though, have a veneer of woke, which is very heartwarming. I search for Black Lives Matter: I get a video tagged “black cocks matter”, and one “ebony slut”. All this should be a surprise, because PornHub was recently vaunting its progressive credentials. “Pornhub stands in solidarity against racism and social injustice”, the company tweeted, along with links to Black Lives Matter-adjacent campaigns that followers could support. It’s not a surprise, though, because PornHub is horrible.

If I wanted to be chippy, I would call this a perfect example of the indulgence model of modern liberal mores. Pay your tithe to the bail fund as directed, get back to whacking off over racism with your conscience salved. But actually, I would probably be being both chippy and incorrect, because does anyone really feel bad about their porn? The generally agreed position is that porn exists somewhere outside morality. Things which, at a tenth of the strength, would be instant cancellation offences in any other medium are granted licence in porn because someone, somewhere got an erection from them.

The porn industry’s success in positioning itself beyond petty questions of good and bad is one of the great marketing triumphs of modern times. If it feels good, watch it. Heck, watch it at work if you want to. Here, I run into some tricky terrain, because what happens in the dark between our own heads and hands is really no one’s concern but our own, and if you want to think about that particular woman bent OTK in a lace chemise then what does it have at all to do with me. Hectoring our fantasies seems a spectacularly fruitless endeavour.

But porn is not fantasy. Porn is business, and a profoundly exploitative one. I don’t mean that in the no-doubt tiresome feminist sense that it exploits women, although it does. I mean it in the sense that, in its modern form, pornography is an industry where the capitalist rinses out the worker, then puts up a blogpost to mark International Sex Workers’ Day, which aims to “honor sex workers” and “push for better working conditions”. The fact that PornHub is a major driver of those working conditions is, well, wouldn’t you like to look at some tits instead of thinking about it?

PornHub belongs to the conglomerate MindGeek, which also owns multiple other “tube” sites for watching free porn. Where does this porn come from? From production companies, many of which are also owned by MindGeek. In many cases, if a performer wants to defend their royalties on a clip, they’ll need the help of the copyright holder, which just happens to also be the company drawing down a profit by serving it for free, so good luck with that. Another group of people have also struggled to get PornHub to remove content that violates their rights: victims of “revenge porn”, whose abusers upload their images to the “amateur” category.

At this point in the argument, people like to say: but what about ethical porn? Here’s what’s about ethical porn: it doesn’t matter. It makes up such a tiny proportion of the industry, it’s like putting a chicken in your back garden and claiming you’ve fixed factory farming. Apologies to those who twist themselves into astonishing shapes to produce the kind of porn they think should exist, but at best all they’re doing is providing a talking point for people who want to stall the discussion by saying “what about ethical porn?” so they can get back to their vertically integrated faux-incest.

If you want to talk about ethics in porn, let’s discuss why the industry has yet to have its #metoo moment. There was a possibility of one in 2015, when the performer James Deen was accused of on-set assault by multiple female costars; but the reckoning failed to come. (Deen denies any wrongdoing.) Journalists with an interest in the porn industry proved surprisingly incurious about following these allegations up. For example, writer Emily Witt met Deen during a set visit for an article published in n+1. The abuse claims emerged while she was revising that piece for inclusion in her 2016 book Future Sex: rather than address them, Witt cut him from the copy.

Now another porn celebrity has been not just accused, but charged: the performer Ron Jeremy faces three counts of rape and one of sexual assault. And perhaps this will, finally, be the occasion for a conversation about the attitudes inculcated by an industry which makes a show of brutality against women. Probably not, though. The porn industry could hardly survive if it went in for any self-reflection at all. But, then the hollowness of PornHub’s ethical credentials is obvious. It’s the credulousness of porn’s defenders that’s the really shocking thing.

Sarah Ditum

QotD: “‘Rough sex’ defence will be banned, says justice minister”

The so-called “rough sex gone wrong” defence will be outlawed in new domestic abuse legislation, a justice minister has told MPs.

Alex Chalk said it was “unconscionable” that the defence can be used in court to justify or excuse the death of a woman “simply because she consented”.

He said it would be made “crystal clear” in the Domestic Abuse Bill that it was not acceptable.

The bill, for England and Wales, is due to become law later this year.

Jess Phillips, Labour’s shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding, spoke on an amendment proposed by Labour MP Harriet Harman and Conservative MP Mark Garnier to the legislation, to prevent lawyers from using the defence, but withdrew it following assurances from Mr Chalk.

The campaign group We Can’t Consent To This, which wants the defence outlawed, said the minister’s response was “a big step forward”.

The group says the “rough sex” defence can result in a lesser sentence.

Campaigners want to make it the expectation that murder charges are brought against those suspected of killing a person during sex.

As it stands, if someone kills another person during sexual activity they could be charged with manslaughter alone. To murder someone, there needs to have been an intention to kill that person or to cause them grievous bodily harm (GBH).

We Can’t Consent To This has collated 60 examples of women “who were killed during so-called ‘sex games gone wrong'” in the UK, since 1972.

The group claims that 45% of these cases ended in a “lesser charge of manslaughter, a lighter sentence or the death not being investigated as a crime at all”.

There are also 115 people – all but one of whom were women – who have had to attend court where it is claimed they consented to violent injury, the group has said.

The violence used in the non-fatal assaults included waterboarding, wounding, strangulation, beating and asphyxiation.

Speaking to MPs at the Commons’ Public Bill Committee, Jess Phillips said: “The law should be clear to all – you cannot consent to serious injury or death, but the case law is not up to the task.”

She said when a woman is dead “she can’t speak for herself” but any man charged with killing a woman or a current or former partner could “simply say she wanted it”.

“This is why we must change the law,” she said.

Alex Chalk, replying for the government, said: “It is unconscionable for defendants to suggest that the death of a woman is justified, excusable or legally defensible because that woman had engaged in violent and harmful sexual activity which resulted in her death, simply because she consented.”

He said that would be made “crystal clear” in the Domestic Abuse Bill but he was concerned the wording of the amendment would allow defence lawyers “wiggle room”.

He said the government’s approach would be set out by the report stage – the next stage in the bill’s progression through Parliament. Ms Phillips said she was satisfied with this assurance.

The We Can’t Consent to This campaign group said what had happened in Parliament “was genuinely a big step forward”, adding: “We should know within weeks what their proposals are and if they’ve gone far enough.”

Earlier this month at Prime Minister’s Questions, Conservative MP Laura Farris said the government had taken a lead on tackling domestic abuse, but said there was “an ugly dimension that remains unresolved” on the issue of the rough sex defence.

In response, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We are committed to ensuring that the law is made clear and that defence is inexcusable.”

(source)

QotD: “More than 60 victims have been forced to go to court over the past decade to deny that they consented to strangulation, assaults or violence”

More than 60 victims have been forced to go to court over the past decade to deny that they consented to strangulation, assaults or violence, according to the campaign to end reliance on the “rough sex” defence.

Figures for the number of such court appearances have been collected by the organisation We Can’t Consent to This, which supports amendments to the domestic abuse bill being considered by MPs on Thursday.

The lobby group is one of several calling for changes to the law to prevent defendants blaming victims – almost invariably women – for the violence inflicted on them by alleging they had consented during “sex games”.

On Wednesday, Boris Johnson repeated his commitment to end the rough sex defence. During prime minister’s questions, he was challenged by the Conservative MP Laura Farris who asked: “When men who kill their partners in appalling acts of sexual violence establish in court that ‘she asked for it’ and avoid a murder conviction, does [he] agree that the time is now to end the rough sex defence?”

Responding, Johnson, whose fiancee, Carrie Symonds, was a victim of predatory sex attacker John Worboys, said: “She raises an incredibly important point and we do – we are committed to ensuring that the law is made clear on this point and that defence is inexcusable.”

Rebecca Hitchen, campaigns manager at the End Violence Against Women Coalition, welcomed the prime minister’s statement: “It is past time for the government to get rid of the ability of men who murder women to claim in court as a defence that it was consensual and part of rough sex.”

Campaigners argue that the defence should not have been open to any defendant since 1993 when a test case, R v Brown, in the House of Lords resulted in the conviction of a group of men for assault and wounding even though their sadomasochistic victims willingly participated in the violence.

But We Can’t Consent to This has assembled evidence of 67 cases in the past 10 years in which it said victims were nonetheless required to come to court to deny that they had consented to physical attacks. Going back as far as 1997, it said, it had discovered a total of 115 such cases.

The cases involved women whose attackers claimed they consented to acts including “waterboarding, wounding, electrocution, strangulation and asphyxiation, slapping, beating, punching and kicking, and, in one case, a shotgun fired intimately at a woman,” the campaign group said. “In every one of these cases, the victim insisted that she did not consent to the violence.”

The organisation believes that, going back to the 1970s, as many as 60 women in the UK have been killed in violence, which it was claimed they had consented to.

Among those who died in similar circumstances recently was the British backpacker Grace Millane who was murdered in Auckland, New Zealand.

“There was a tenfold increase in rough sex claims between 1996 and 2016 in the UK and, in every case that we have found, the defendant has been male, many with a substantial domestic abuse history or other convictions for serious violence against women, like rape, kidnap or homicide,” the campaign group said.

“We have long said that the existing law is not working. Our evidence shows that although case law in England and Wales is said to prohibit ‘consent’ claims in defence to violence, it is routinely disregarded in the criminal justice system, and these claims work, resulting in a lighter sentence, a lesser charge, or no prosecution at all – and the woman’s sexual history used to prove she asked for it, even where she says she didn’t.”

The organisation has also accused the Crown Prosecution Service of failing to pursue charges in a recent case in which a woman who reported a violent assault to police has, reportedly, been told in a CPS letter that the prosecution would not be pursued because “the courts have shown an interest in changing the law so that the suspect could say that you consented to these assaults. This would be difficult to disprove”.

A CPS spokesperson said: “Tackling violence against women and girls has long been a CPS priority, and one we remain strongly committed to.

“Claims that a victim has ‘consented’ to an assault do not stop us from prosecuting. We work closely with the police to build and strengthen cases, and if our legal test is met, we will always prosecute, no matter how challenging the case.”

(source)