The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Partner Rape And The Police

Posted by Cate on July 15, 2008

Distrubing research has been published today about partner rape which reveals that many police consider partner rape to be a grey area, and that 1 in 5 police interviewed suggested that sexual offenses perpetrated by intimate partners should not be reported.

The research, titled “Raped by a partner: Nowhere to go, No-one to tell” is the publication of two years of solid research by by Women’s Health Goulburn North East and Upper Murray Centre Against Sexual Assault about partner rape including interviews with 21 women from the Goulburn Valley and north east Victoria; and interviews and focus groups with 30 police officers and 23 sector workers. I couldn’t help thinking of the notorious South Australian rape trial in 1992 where Justice Bollen said:

There is, of course, nothing wrong with a husband, faced with his wife’s
initial refusal to engage in intercourse, in attempting, in an acceptable
way, to persuade her to change her mind, and that may involve a measure
of rougher than usual handling. It may be that handling and
persuasion will persuade the wife to agree. Sometimes it is a fine line
between not agreeing, then changing of the mind, and consenting …
(R v Johns, Supreme Court, SA No. SCCRM/91/452, 26 August 1992.)

It is disturbing that we live in time when rape in marriage was legal less than a generation ago, a media campaign about sexual assault and violence against women takes 3 years to come to fruition only to be released in a watered down form, and rape is still used as a subject of amusement, satirical or otherwise. Why is rape a grey area? When I worked on a volunteer counselling line, I was asked quite a few times

“My boyfriend had sex with me when I was asleep… Is this rape?”

The Dawn Chorus would like to remind it’s readers that non-consensual sex is always a crime. Regardless of whether the offender is in an intimate relationship with the victim.

Let the onslaught of media talk-back/tabloid pundits spew forth their ill formed opinions and rhetoric about the fabrication of rape charges, but we all know that rape occurs daily, the victim most commonly knows their perpetrator, few rapes are reported, and ever fewer lead to prosecution.

People who can help:

  1. Centre Against Sexual Assault 1800 806 292
  2. Women’s Domestic Violence Crisis Line 1800 015 188
  3. Victoria Police 000 or your local Victoria Police Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Units

2 Responses to “Partner Rape And The Police”

  1. Hey guys! Just started reading your blog!

    I’ve heard of this story through friends of friends, it’s what teenagers are calling ‘Surprise Sex’… the story is second-hand to me, but apparently from a teacher who works with 16 or 17 year olds in Melbsie… in brief: The teacher was talking about the right times to say to ‘no’ etc in sexual situations… and a student said ‘What about Surprise Sex?’… not really knowing what this was, the Teacher asked carefully about what that is… the Student (and others in the class) explained ‘At parties, after you’ve passed out, you wake up and find a hot guy ‘in’ you, and you’re like.. oh he’s hot… and you don’t stop him…’ … Therefore ‘Surprise Sex’…

    I was really shocked when I heard this! I was totally up for random pashes at teenage parties (hey I’m from Gippsland) but Surprise Sex? WTF? Where is the consent anywhere here??

  2. mscate said

    Yeah I’ve heard about this too….makes you wonder about consent and respect (to yourself and to your partner) in the bigger sense.

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