(Black Press file photo)

LETTERS: ‘Implied consent’ is not a valid defence to a charge of sexual assault

We would like to thank writer Nina Grossman and the Oak Bay News for the important article in the July 2 issue, “Saanich woman says sexual assault was dismissed by police.”

It’s vital that the public hear these stories in order to realize the prevalence not only of sexual assault but also that of harmful responses by the legal system and police. It took great courage for Ashley to go to the police, and we’re appalled at the treatment she received.

The officer on the case failed to recognize the act committed against her as a crime and, indeed, blamed her for its occurrence. Here, law enforcement has not only failed Ashley but will potentially deter others from reporting a crime of sexual assault.

This police officer’s conclusion that the assault “didn’t count” reveals a widespread societal belief that men are entitled to women’s bodies and that consent is a given unless various conditions are met. One of these conditions is that the women “fight back.”

As University of Victoria law professor Rebecca Johnson states in the article, this belief is “legally wrong.” Furthermore, people who are sexually assaulted often “freeze”— a third possible response to threat, along with “fight or flight.” Additionally, the police officer in this case decided the word “no” was not enough. What part of “no” is unclear?

Consent to sexual activity is not the default setting, ever. During all stages of a sexual encounter, it is crucial to be certain that each person is a willing participant. Even the lack of the word “no” does not constitute consent. To paraphrase Professor Johnson again, ‘implied consent’ is not a valid defence to a charge of sexual assault. Everyone’s rights to the integrity of their own bodies trumps the wish of anyone else to have sex. To act contrary to this principle is unethical, deeply harmful — and illegal.

Janet Millar, Gerry Millar

and Laura Kellough-Pollock

Oak Bay

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Langford boy wakes up from surgery to find stuffed puppy wearing the same cast

Hospital staff outfitted ‘Eddy’ the puppy to match the young patient

VIDEO: Annual artist studio tour goes virtual on Saanich Peninsula

ArtSea converts popular event to online format with personalized artist videos

Local Flavour: Youth take the lead in Victoria’s Pollinator Leadership Team

Guest writer Thompson Hygge, summer intern with Pollinator Partnership Canada

Sewage installation to delay drivers along Sooke Road until early September

Construction starts Monday, August 10 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Flyover at B.C. Leg to commemorate National Peacekeepers’ Day

August 9 marks biggest single day loss of Canadian lives from peace operations

QUIZ: Do you know the truth?

In what has been described as a post-truth era, how much do you know about truth and lies?

Simon Cowell breaks his back falling from electric bike

Incident happened at his home in California

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Missing teen visiting Courtenay found safe

She had last been seen going for a walk on Aug. 6

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Fitness non-profit challenges citizens to invent a game to be physically active

The campaign was launched after a study showed only 4.8 per cent of children and youths in Canada met required standards of the 24-hour movement guidelines

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

Most Read