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I ADMIT to the fact that the timing of this article has a tinge of dramatic irony about it, falling so contingent as it does to International Women’s Day and National Justice Week. The subject of such irony? The fact that, in the UK, a woman cannot be convicted of raping either a man or another woman, except as an “aider and abettor” in a joint enterprise. This is because of how the offence of rape is defined by the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

Essentially women, as a matter of law, do not have the necessary “biological parts” to commit the offence. The 2003 Act makes non-consensual penile penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth the main element of the offence.

Legal academics describe this approach as being “phallo-centric” or “phallo-genic”. Hence the reference to ‘phallacy’ ( a pun on ‘fallacy’) in the title!

This legal curiosity is not an example of the law being “chivalrous”, however. It is an example of the law being patriarchal. Men control everything, even who can rape and how the offence is committed!

Women can, of course, sexually assault men and also other women. However, as a matter of law, they cannot, by themselves, commit the offence of rape, even though the manner of a sexual assault could amount to rape in all but name. Consider the woman who forces, coerces or compels a man to have penetrative sexual intercourse with her, against his will. Consider the woman who anally or orally penetrates a man with a strap-on dildo. The prosecution rests!

Syvil Lloyd Morris, Solicitor Advocate

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