Forced penetration: If a woman forces a man to have sex, is that rape?

Penetrative sex with woman without consent is classified as rape, however forced to penetrate sex which happens without the man’s consent is not classified as rape under the law of England and Wales.

However a recent study conducted by an author has suggested that the phenomenon be considered as rape. Dr Siobhan Weare of Lancaster University Law School carried out the first research into forced penetration in the UK in 2016-7, gathering information from more than 200 men via an online survey.

Her latest study, published this week – based on one-to-one interviews with 30 men between May 2018 and July 2019 – explores in greater detail the context in which forced penetration occurs, its consequences, and the response of the criminal justice system.

One of the interviewee narrates his ordeal on being forced by his partner to have penetrative sex with her. At first his partner started to self-harm. After a particularly frightening incident he rushed her to A&E for treatment. The couple spent hours discussing possible psychological causes.

However over time, she stopped inflicting harm on herself, instead she channed her attention towards him (anonymous interviewee).

“I was sitting in the living room and she just came in from the kitchen, punched me very hard on the nose and ran off giggling,” John says. “The violence then started happening quite regularly.”
“She tried to get help from her GP, She had some counselling, and she was referred to a psychologist – though didn’t attend the appointment.

“She’d come home from her job “and basically demand sex”, She would be violent, and it got to the stage that I dreaded her coming back from work.”

Weare says that most of the participants in the latest study regarded their forced-to-penetrate experiences as “rape”, and some were frustrated that it would not count as rape under the law of England and Wales. There was frustration also that British society would most likely not recognise it as rape.

In one of Weare’s papers – titled “Oh, you’re a guy, how could you be raped by a woman, that makes no sense” – she points out that in several US states rape is broadly defined as non-consensual sexual intercourse, and that in the Australian state of Victoria a specific offence exists of “rape by compelling penetration”.

One of eight recommendations made in the latest study is that reform of the law of rape to include FTP cases requires “serious consideration”.

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