The use of the “rough sex” defence gained recent notoriety when the killer of murdered backpacker Grace Millane argued the 22-year-old victim had died accidentally in a ‘sex game gone wrong
Using “rough sex” as a defence to excuse crimes of sexual violence will be banned in the UK later this year.
The defence, used by lawyers to excuse non-fatal and fatal assaults because the victim has consented to sex, will be outlawed with “immediate effect,” Justice Minister Alex Chalk has announced.
Campaign groups have shown the defence can lead to lesser sentences for perpetrators accused of harming women, and in some cases, entirely excuse their crimes. The campaign group ‘We Can’t Consent To This’ found in 45 per cent of cases where the defence was used, the perpetrator was given a lesser sentence.
A total of 115 people, 114 of whom were women, had to attend trials stating they consented to non-fatal assaults, including waterboarding, wounding, strangulation, beating and asphyxiation. According to We Can’t Consent To This’ data sourced through local and national news sites in the UK and public judgements, deaths and injuries of women in claimed “rough sex” went from two per year in 1996 to 20 in 2016.
The Government added it will make sure their proposals go further than the scope of the Domestic Abuse Bill, ensuring that (for instance) women who’d only just met the men will be protected, leaving no “wiggle room” for defendants.