Rape and sexual assault - the law

This section hopes to answer any questions that you might have about rape, assault by penetration or sexual assault.


What is rape?

Rape is when a person uses his penis to intentionally penetrate the vagina, anus or mouth of another person without their consent.

What is sexual assault?

Both men and women can commit this offence. It can also be committed against either a man or a woman.

Different types of sexual assault include:

  • Objects or parts of the body (such as a finger) penetrating someone's vagina or anus without their consent.
  • Someone being touched in a sexual way that makes him or her feel uncomfortable or frightened (this could be through their clothes).
  • Someone being made to sexually stimulate themselves using their hands or fingers (known as masturbation) or putting objects into their vagina or anus when they don't want to do it.

It is important to remember that being pressurised or forced to have sex, when you don't want to, is a crime.

What is consent?

A person consents if he or she agrees by choice, and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice.

The law recognises that consent can be withdrawn at any time before or during a sexual act. So if someone says yes to begin with and then says no during sex, consent has been withdrawn. Your agreement has to be by choice. You must also have the capacity to make your choice.

If someone is too drunk to give consent, it should always be assumed that they have NOT given their consent.

Drink is NO excuse


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