According to the Criminal Code of Canada if a person is too intoxicated to give consent regardless of if they fail to resist or say no, it is considered rape. However, what exactly is “too intoxicated”? If a young woman is intoxicated but does not pass out is she able to consent? What part did she play in her sexual assault?
A young girl goes out partying, has too much to drink and passes out. She wakes up the next day naked and disoriented. She knows sexual activity took place but without her consent. Numerous sexual assault centres are hearing similar stories from teenage girls at an alarmingly increasing rate. What happens to a girl in these circumstances? The answer varies.
If there were nude pictures taken of the woman, a video made of the incident or witnesses willing to testify, then the case has potential to succeed in court. Conversely, if there is a lack of such evidence, the police are often forced to inform the victim that the case won’t go far. If the accused is able to create reasonable doubt that they committed the crime, the court is more likely to drop the case against the accused. Legally speaking, this is a sound decision as judges cannot convict someone when there are reasonable grounds to believe they did not commit the crime.
Juries and Judges
According to an article published in the Windsor Star, judges and juries often consider the “traditional standards” of how a woman should be behaving when partying or intoxicated when assessing the case. If the woman was forced to take drugs or alcohol, or was intoxicated without her knowledge, then the judge and jury are more likely to believe that she was raped.
According to Janine Benedet, a law professor at the University of British Columbia, society still supports the deep rooted mentality of “did she ask for it?” Victim-blaming can have countless damaging implications ranging from bullying to suicide. The infamous cases of Rehtaeh Parsons and Steubenville high school are clear examples of the impacts of victim blaming. It is no surprise that many victims refuse to come forward about sexual assault to avoid the stigma. There have been cases where victims have been held captive, sexually and physically assaulted but did not attempt to escape because they felt no one in society including their family would accept them.
Victim Blaming “Boys will be boys but girls should know better”.
Supporters of this mentality argue that boys do not understand the extent to which their actions can impact others but girls do; thus, girls are supposed to be more responsible and take necessary precautions. In opposition, many argue that this mentality is not only outdated but degrading to males and females alike as it suggests that males can’t control themselves and females are responsible for being raped. Janine Benedet has argued that juries and judges setting unreasonable, practically impossible standards for women to obtain the justice they deserve.
Did you like this piece or find it informative? If so, please press “like” and subscribe!
Points of Discussion:
1. What are your thoughts?
Want to read the original article? Find it here: http://windsorstar.com/news/sexual-assaultintoxication-feature