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UK Bans ‘Rough Sex’ Defence, Why It's Important For Women

BP World Bureau | Jul 04 2020 06:47:48 PM
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The United Kingdom has removed or outlawed the 'rough sex' defense in their landmark Domestic Abuse Bill. 

Earlier, this defense was used by perpetrators, accused of sexual assault that led to the death of the victim, to help them reduce their murder sentence by claiming that victims died due to injuries caused by consensual rough sex.

The removal of this draconian 'rough sex' defense is an important milestone for women's rights in the country. 

An organisation named 'We Can’t Consent To This' (WCCTT) documented at least 60 dead women and several others injured in the UK by men who used this defence to claim that "sex went wrong."

Fiona Mackenzie, WCCTT founder, said that some of the members knew women who died in similar circumstances and wanted to save other women.

'Rough Sex' defense was used from the 1980s. However, it led to anger only after the murders of Natalie Connolly in the UK and Grace Millane in New Zealand.

Connelly was murdered and her body sustained 40 severe injuries including in her private parts. Her killer argued that she had masochistic desires. 

Millane met her killer through Tinder and her death garnered anger in 2018 because of the gory manner of strangulation and dumping of the body.

Her killer used rough sex defense though the autopsy reports suggested that her death was caused by physical pressure for 5-10 minutes. 

WTTCC cited that 17 killings of women were either acquitted or reduced to manslaughter from murder, due to 'rough sex' defense. Added to that, the family and friends of the victim have to endure the trauma and publicity as a result of discussing the victim's sex life in court. 

Justice Minister Alex Chalk said in the new judgment that it was “unconscionable” for the “rough sex” defence to be used in court to justify the killing of a woman.

'Rough sex' often comes in the context where either man or woman desires rough physical intercourse or in the context of BDSM (Bondage/Discipline, Sadism/Masochism).

Women's rights activists have been saying that it is important to know the boundary between consent and rape. 

WTTCC had argued that women's desire for rough sex should not be used by men as an excuse to hurt her or kill her.