Courts, Legislators Debate Timing Of Consent In Rape Cases


If a woman consents to sex with a man but during intercourse says no, and the man continues, is it rape? Time magazine says 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 enacted legislation giving a woman that right to change her mind. In Maryland–as well as in North Carolina–when a woman says yes, she can’t then call it rape.

Advocates for victims’ rights say that if the law doesn’t recognize a woman’s right to say no during sex, 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. Mel Feit of the National Center for Men, a male-advocacy group, says biology is a factor. “At a certain point during arousal, we don’t have complete control over our ability to stop,” he says. “To equate that with brutal, violent rape weakens the whole concept of rape.” His group has created a “consensual sex contract” to be signed before intercourse.


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