The Feminist Majority reports, 11/1/2006 - A three-judge panel of the Maryland Special Court of Appeals reinforced the provision of Maryland's rape law that says a woman who gives consent prior to intercourse cannot withdraw her legal consent during the act. The decision came on Monday when the Court overturned a rape conviction. During deliberation in the original trial, the jury had asked, "If a female consents to sex initially and, during the course of the sex act to which she consented, for whatever reason, she changes her mind and the... man continues until climax, does the result constitute rape?" The trial judge said that Maryland’s law was unclear and would not provide a definite answer. The Special Court of Appeals, however, disagreed with the trial judge's interpretation of the law. Current Maryland rape law is "not ambiguous," said the ruling; if a woman consents prior to sex, she may not withdraw her consent during the act and accuse her partner of rape if he continues the act.
Women's rights groups are outraged by the ruling. "You should have the right to say no at anytime and that should mean no and if sexual acts continue after you've withdrawn your consent, they should be considered a crime," said Jennifer Pollitt Hill, a member of the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, to WJZ, a local television station. According to WJZ, several decision-makers have already said they wish to address the issue in the upcoming legislative session, though legislation that would have given women the right to withdraw consent at anytime has failed in both 2004 and 2005.
Maryland is one of two states that have ruled that women do not have the right to withdraw consent. Seven other states have ruled that women may withdraw consent at anytime.
Reading this immediately brought to mind a scene from Alan Duff's book, "In Jake's Long Shadow" where a particularly vulnerable young Maori woman spends the evening with a young Pacific Islander who she brings home. She wants to have sex with him but he isn't interested and goes to sleep on the couch. Later in the night he violently, brutally rapes her, the only way, it seems, he can get his kicks. He punishes her for having made a play for him. Girls shouldn't initiate sex. Sure, this is fiction but one can imagine the scenario being real. The guy has committed a horrible crime even if she gave him consent initially.
Does anybody know where New Zealand courts stand on this issue?
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