History of Sexual Offences in English Law
Many may have wondered how a certain crime originated and the primary reasons for its emergence. Many more are bombarded by the media with many thrillers and crime-based films, dramas and books which will narrate a sequence of events that lead to a crime taking place. A great deal of research goes into investigating when a crime takes place. A team of forensic scientists will gather evidence from the crime scene. It will take long working hours to gather and examine every detail under a microscope before issuing the verdict, and a suspect is charged with committing that crime. Within the history of crime, sexual offences have always been of great interest and intrigue. This may be due to the nature of the crime that takes place and how it takes place. Sexual offences have been one great puzzle to solve in the history of crime. Within the context of this thesis, this paper will be examining the history of sexual offences, looking at the various aspects of sexual offences (or different kinds of sexual offences) and what the UK Law says about them. There will be four chapters within this thesis, namely: introduction, literature review (mentioning different cases), methodology and discussion. The objective of this thesis is to understand the significance of sexual offences, how they take place, what kind of research goes into hunting down the sexual predators and the legal ruling in the United Kingdom, and what punishment is determined for sex offenders.
Looking back at the history of the 20thcentury and the early days of the 21stcentury, child abuse came under the public spotlight. Although child abuse had existed since time immemorial, it was not seen as a topic of discussion back in the 19thcentury. It should be noted that one of the greatest obstacles in approaching this topic was describing what constituted child sexual abuse in a specific period. Within the legal context, the definition revolved around questions of coercion and age (Sexual Abuse and Sexual Exploitation of Victorian Children).
According to the article History of Child Abuse, children are identified as the main victims of child abuse. The article highlights the importance of helping abused children to tackle emotional problems with the support of families; where the routine assault of children was seen as one of the societys key ways of sustaining its collective emotional homeostasis. Child abuse can be described as inhumane, cruel and unbearable, and it should hold no place in society. There should be severe punishment for those who participate in any activity just to satisfy their minds and punish innocent children. Child abuse is one of the most disturbing sexual offences since its victims are underage and innocent. The children suffer in the hands of perverted minds and decisions of adults who tend to poison the innocent young minds. Child abuse tends to control the bodies and minds of the abused children as it makes them feel like they are under constant threat. Abused children will also be afraid of revealing their abusive experiences to a person that may help them for fear of being abused again by the offender.
In the U.S., about 30% men and 40% women have been sexually molested in their childhood. The men and women have been abused by family members and caretakers in the majority of cases. While sexual abuse is prevalent in a country such as the US, cases of incest are seen to be increasing compared to its Western counterparts (De Mause 1998).
Historically, women have been the main sufferers of sexual abuse and violence more than men since they did not have the same rights as men. Women were denied the right to education and voting. A good example is when a woman was raped in the city. She was typically blamed and more often than not accused of being the initiator of the crime on herself. She was victimised and treated with disrespect. Another example is the Hebrew law. It states that a woman raped within the precincts of the city must be stoned alongside the aggressor so as to prevent her from screaming or running away. Furthermore, if such an incident happened outside the city walls, the assumption was that her cries were not heard. The rapist would, therefore, be required to marry the woman and at the same time compensate to the womans father. According to the medieval common law in the United Kingdom, if a woman was raped, she was expected to cry out loud and show her torn clothes to men of good reputation in society. If she was unsuccessful in doing so instantly, the accusation would be dismissed. She would instead be punished for falsely accusing someone of raping her (Mason 2001, McLeod 2000, and Pubweb 1999).
According to tradition, a woman was regarded as her fathers property until when she got married. When this happened, it would then be the responsibility of the husband to take care of the woman. In cases where a woman got raped by her husband, it was not considered an offence at any circumstance.
On the other hand, according to the law in South Australian, rape was described as the act having sex with a lady who was not ones wife without first getting her consent. In 1976, a number of drastic changes were made to the Criminal Law Consolidation Act (1935). These changes greatly altered the definition of rape so as to include anal penetration without consent. This has found its way into the current law where penetration of other body parts is also considered as rape. The legal ruling in regard to rape has been modified in recent times although there are still many myths and misunderstandings, which are believed by the majority of the community. However, several people think that since the victim is overpowered and cannot fight back, the offence should be legally described as rape. It should be noted that a majority of these beliefs are historical traditions still in practise in modern times within many communities. For example, some people still think that men cannot be raped while others believe that many of the victims should primarily be blamed for the incident. It can further be argued that these traditions silence rape victims and make it very hard for them to come forward and describe the actual rape and seek the help they need. The traditions keep demonising women by making it appear as if they brought the rape upon themselves. Also, traditions do not demonise the sexual offenders, but instead keep demonising women as being the main culprit or cause that provoked the man to rape her in the first place (The Context of Rape and Sexual Assault).
in as little as3 hours
The traditional justice determines the severity of any sexual offence, depending on the extent of violence and physical harm caused by the offender. The traditional justice recognizes that there are many dimensions destroyed when a woman gets raped. The womans emotional and mental condition gets unstable, she is unable to trust people, and has difficulties in building new relationships. There is also the sense of insecurity she would experience, and she feels subjected to a second class human treatment which is completely unfair. Although a large proportion of sexual offences victims are children, a good number of these victims are actually boys. The nature of the sexual violence against children is not only intolerable but cruel because children do not deserve to suffer at the hands of a sexual predator. Although most sexual assault victims are women either in their early teens or early twenties, these women are not the only targets. Medical and legal records clearly point out how people of all ages, nationalities, cultures and colour have experienced some kind of sexual abuse. The recognition of violence against women in general and of sexual abuse in particular was seen as a major problem in Canada. This was due to the result of the work of the womens movement that pressed for the need to punish those who committed such offences. It was from the late 1960s to 1970s when womens movement campaigners decided to raise their voice against rape and give them a platform to gain the same rights as men and be able to receive sufficient help and healing guidance and workshops to bring their life back on track.
The history of sexual offence legislation in Canada offers an interesting view of how there was a development of social attitudes towards gender, sex and sexual offences in the country. Looking back at the history of sexual offences, under the Criminal Code of Canada, it clearly describes the kind of sexual activity involved. For instance, rape was seen to be forced vaginal penetration, indecent assault on a male or female (referred to as unwanted touching), and gross indecency (both anal and oral penetration). The old laws clearly emphasized on creating stereotypes of female and male roles, where forced vaginal penetration was required to prove rape. There were special rules of proof that clearly reflected a fear of false complaints that were made by women, where they were subjected to discrimination, clearly stating that they were unreliable or not trustworthy witnesses. It was back in 1983 when there were significant changes made to the criminal laws, which included sexual offences. For example, there were legal reforms, which clearly reflected the changing social values and an enhancement of understanding of the nature of sexual violence and how society was clearly dealing with these victims. There was a strong need for these changes to take place, which would help and alleviate the pain of the victims in court. This would enable them face the judge and describe the sexual offence clearly. Another intention was to remove some of the supposed impediments to sexual abuse survivors use of the justice system; this would help them feel they are able to get a fair trial.
In India, women who were raped were in most cases asked not to come forward or even testify or file a case. This was predominantly due to the cultural norms and the pressure from families where they were subjected to threats and blackmails. They were told not to file cases if they did not want to be disowned by their husbands. Sometimes these women were not even allowed to mention the rape incident altogether to their families with the fear of being kicked out or alienated by their household. Such a bias that openly supports the predator only shows how women were mortified at the thought of getting help in the first place because the legal system was humiliating them and making them feel as if they were the culprit; in a way they were creating a perception about these victims as being impure, dirty, used, worthless and no longer a suitable person to be considered worth of living a normal life. Women who suffer from any form of sexual offence are directly linked to because of their lack of economic and social status. For example, there are issues of power and control in sexual offence cases, which emerge out of sexist stereotypes regarding how men are right in their position to control women in all aspects of their lives and using violence is not considered wrongful at all. It can further be added that sex role stereotyping tends to sketch the image of women being submissive partners in social and sexual interaction- where women enjoy being traumatised. They are possessed by men, and that women are solely dependent on their husbands.
This was predominantly due to the cultural norms and the pressure from families where they were subjected to threats and blackmails. They were told not to file cases if they did not want to be disowned by their husbands. Sometimes these women were not even allowed to mention the rape incident altogether to their families with the fear of being kicked out or alienated by their household. Such a bias that openly supports the predator only shows how women were mortified at the thought of getting help in the first place because the legal system was humiliating them and making them feel as if they were the culprit; in a way they were creating a perception about these victims as being impure, dirty, used, worthless and no longer a suitable person to be considered worth of living a normal life. Women who suffer from any form of sexual offence are directly linked to sex role stereotyping because of their lack of economic and social status. For example, there are issues of power and control in sexual offence cases, which emerge out of sexist stereotypes regarding how men are right in their position to control women in all aspects of their lives and using violence is not considered wrongful at all. It can further be added that sex role stereotyping tends to sketch the image of women being submissive partners in social and sexual interaction- where women enjoy being traumatised. They are possessed by men, and that women are solely dependent on their husbands.In a way, it is completely treating women as lowly beings who have no identity of their own (Sexual Assault: Victim Service Handbook).
By 2002, level 1 sexual offences (offences of a less serious nature) were estimated to have accounted for almost 88 per cent of all sexual offences in Canada. On the other hand, other sexual offences, which mainly involved children, accounted for 10 per cent, with the sexual assault level 2 and level 3 (aggravated sexual assault) accounting for only 2 per cent (The Daily Statistics Canada, July, 2003). In 2003, a total of 3,700 sexual assaults and other sexual abuse cases were reported by the British Columbia state where 90 per cent were categorised as Level 1 sexual abuse cases.
There is ample literature available that suggests that there are many root causes of sexual abuses. There are theories on why sexual offenders would commit sexual violence in the first place.
A lot of literature on sexual violence suggests that most sexual offences have women and children as their primary victims because they are weak and dependent on the male figure of the family. According to the theories suggesting the root causes of the offence, there are various factors that contributed to the likelihood of a person committing sexual offences. For example, the evolution theory points out how the difference between men and women in the present human mating patterns was as a result of policies that created reproductive success amongst human ancestors.