Search

Rape and Sexual Assault

reporting rape and sexual assault

What is it?

Rape is defined under the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 as the “penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth by the penis without consent”. There is a range of sexual assault and abuse which does not fit within the legal definition of rape, but can be just as distressing and have just as much of an impact.

Any sexual activity without consent is sexual assault or rape.

 

What is consent?

If you are not sure, you don't have consent

Consent is active and ongoing – a person can always change their mind even during an activity.

Consent to one activity is not consent to all – just because a person has consented to sex before, does not mean they consent every time. Just because a person kisses someone does not mean they have consented to sex.

Consent must be freely given – a person has not consented if they are pestered, worn down, made to feel like they ‘owe’ something, or feel like they can’t say no.

Consent cannot be given if a person is incapable because of the influence of alcohol and/or drugs or because they are asleep or unconscious.

Consent can be expressed verbally or non-verbally (known as body language). If someone does not “fight back” that does not mean they have consented. Freezing is a common reaction to fear, not just ‘flight or fight’. (source)

 

Tips for reporting

Don’t report rape or sexual assault as a crime of sexual desire or passion, e.g. “he couldn’t resist her”. This narrative is insulting to men as it suggests that if they didn’t “control themselves”, they too would commit these crimes. Men have control over their own actions, and violence is always a choice. Rape is a crime of violence, abuse and degradation, involving sexual behaviours but primarily motivated by violence, not desire.

Don’t blame women for “leading a man on” by what they were wearing, by kissing him, or by going home with him. Sexual contact without consent is sexual assault or rape, and is a choice by the perpetrator.

If covering a story of a stranger rape, tell readers that this is an anomaly - 86% of serious sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the complainer and only five per cent of rapes reported to the police are committed by a stranger. (source).

It is highly uncommon for women to regret consensual sex then later claim it was rape. There are no more false reports of rape than of any other crime (source). It is important to mention this when covering a story of false allegations.

 

download media guidelines

 

 

ZT logo
Loading