Stop Victim Blaming in Virginia Sex Crime Legislation
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Former Vice President Joe Biden, one of the most substantial proponents of ending sexual violence and the author of the violence against women act has said that making progress isn’t "merely about changing the law and making it better, it's about changing our culture." Today, Virginia has some of the most heinous examples of law that not only fail to better the community, but through their language actually perpetuate rape culture.
This can be seen in the very definition of rape that exists in the Virginia statute. According to law, rape is defined as,
“Vaginal sexual intercourse with a person against her/his will and by force.”
The key issues here is the need for force in order for an assault to be defined as rape. Rape can be a result of physical force, duress, coercion, or any number of other forms of manipulation. Rape without affirmative consent is always rape no matter if the perpetrator uses force.
Similarly, the law against “crimes against nature” has the potential to incriminate victims of rape or sexual assault by a family member:
"Any person who performs or causes to be performed cunnilingus, fellatio, anilingus, or anal intercourse upon or by his daughter or granddaughter, son or grandson, brother or sister, or father or mother is guilty of a Class 5 felony. However, if a parent or grandparent commits any such act with his child or grandchild and such child or grandchild is at least 13 but less than 18 years of age at the time of the offense, such parent or grandparent is guilty of a Class 3 felony."
This law should be modified to apply only when the stated acts are performed willingly, without coercion, force, or threat.
In fact, 46.7% of women who are rape suffer at the hands of an acquaintance and 1 in 3 women have been a victim of intimate partner violence. This statute simply ignores those women’s stories and supports the misconception that rapists are violent strangers who jump from alleyways and attack our young girls.
"2. Evidence of sexual conduct between the complaining witness and the accused offered to support a contention that the alleged offense was not accomplished by force, threat or intimidation or through the use of the complaining witness' mental incapacity or physical helplessness, provided that the sexual conduct occurred within a period of time reasonably proximate to the offense charged under the circumstances of this case;"
This contingency should be struck. Sexual history should not provide an implication of consent, and examples of consensual intercourse around the time of the offense does not excuse the offense itself as consensual, since consent is required in every interaction.
Virginia, it is time to look at the statistics and change our legislation so it is truly in the best interest of our citizens and works to end rape culture in the Commonwealth. Please sign this petition to take a stand against archaic laws and help put an end to rape culture.
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Nora Thompson needs your help with “Virginia House of Delegates: Stop Virginia Legislation that Blames the Victim of Sexual Assault”. Join Nora and 250 supporters today.