Trivialising an atrocious crime

Rape is an extraordinarily serious crime and deserves the harshest punishment. Our new tough laws ensure that rapists are now jailed for a long time.

Rape is an extraordinarily serious crime and deserves the harshest punishment. Our new tough laws ensure that rapists are now jailed for a long time.

These moves show our resolve to protect citizens from sexual violation. But serious concerns are being raised about the loose way in which the word "rape" is bandied about.

The definition of rape in the new Sexual Offences Act might now be too wide. This trivialises the offence and is fraught with unintended consequences. And it might make convicted rapists of many people in a way that offends any sense of natural justice.

For instance, the new law makes a rapist of a client who refuses to pay a prostitute.

So too of a boss who promises someone a job or promotion in return for sexual favours, but fails to deliver on the promise. Should sex by false pretences constitute rape rather than being a repugnant case of deception?

Sexual harassment is appalling, but calling it rape trivialises one of the most dreaded crimes that we all now unreservedly condemn.

Using your body to gain undue advantage over your colleagues is vile. Should a disappointed seductress be able to cry rape?

Refusing to pay someone for sexual services is just as bad, but why brand a skinflint client who refuses to pay a prostitute a rapist?

The new changes carry the whiff of political correctness gone mad.

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