Things like this hurt the very people we're trying to protect.
Despite the fact that it’s now 2017, the world still seems to be coming to terms with what exactly “rape” is and just how to classify and punish it.
There have been a number of cases in recent years that have sparked outrage, like Brock Turner’s pathetic three-month long jail term for getting caught in the act of sexually assaulting a woman who was passed out at a party, but a case in Sweden may spark outrage for an entirely new reason.
Recently, a Swiss woman filed charges against a French man whom she alleged had raped her. The two met through Tinder and were having completely consensual sex, but during the act, the French man apparently decided to remove the condom without his partner’s consent or knowledge.
For this decision, he was charged with rape and convicted to a 12-month suspended sentence.
While the United Kingdom has additional laws that cover “conditional consent,” in sexual assault and rape cases, most modern countries in the world define rape as: “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
What’s shocking about the case in Sweden is that the people involved in the “rape” case were two consenting, conscious adults. However, the Swiss woman made it clear to the court that she would not have had sex with her Tinder match if she knew that he had intended to not use a condom, and this prompted the courts to rule the act as rape.
This comes as a surprise to many people since the actual sex was completely consensual. It also has many people questioning if perhaps the labeling of “rape” was too harsh in this situation, and that the law needs to reflect that this was not actually rape, but should still be punished under sexual misconduct.
If Sweden has a sexual offender database that’s anything like the United States’, then this man will now be labeled as a sex offender for the rest of his life because he had consensual sex and chose to remove the condom without consent.
There are numerous reasons to wear a condom during sex: it protects both partners against STIs and STDs, and for heterosexuals, it also acts as a safeguard against unwanted pregnancies. Should the woman have been furious that he removed this safeguard without telling her? Absolutely. But labeling this as rape doesn’t seem quite right or fair.
This landmark decision by the Swedish courts may also cause new problems with sexual assault and rape cases in the future.
If a condom breaks during sex and the man involved completes his climax, does that mean his partner can suggest that perhaps he knew the condom was broken and therefore is now a rapist? Will it be rape if either the man or woman purposely poke holes in the condom for the purpose of tricking their partner into having a child?
It’s clear that people need to have harsher laws to protect people in these situations, but simply labeling everything as “rape” will not solve anything. While his decision was absolutely a violation of the woman’s consent, it doesn’t change the fact that she was still willingly having sex with him, and she would likely have had the same reaction and anger if they’d been having sex and she discovered that the had condom broken instead of been removed.
Rape is a very serious crime and by labeling every instance like this as such may very well end up hurting the very people it’s supposed to protect.