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What Are Sexual Offences?

What Are Sexual Offences?

A sexual offence solicitor has one of the most important jobs in law, as sexual offences are committed on a daily basis and are crimes that have been on the rise in recent years. So what are sexual offences? Sexual offences involve committing sexual activities with an individual without their consent. There are a number of offences that can be classified as sexual offences and these include rape, sexual assault, child grooming, indecent images, and child abuse. The legal professional will be an expert in all areas of sexual offences and will be able to provide their clients with professional advice. 


What are the differences between rape and sexual assault?

There is a common misconception that rape and sexual assault are the same. They are not. There are slight variations in each definition but essentially the concept is still the same. Sexual assault is the lesser of the two offences, with rape being the most serious. The legal definition of rape is the penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth with a penis without consent. From this definition it can be said that the penetration needs to be with a penis and will not be deemed as rape if any other body part or object is used. In the past this caused a lot of issues as often cases were thrown out as this crucial element was missing. However recently the law has changed whereby a victim will still be able to bring their case forward. The legal definition of sexual assault is the penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth with any other body part or object without consent. This has now widened the scope for victims and prevents criminals from being able to escape despite being guilty. 


What are the similarities between rape and sexual assault?

As the two legal definitions demonstrate, there are a lot of similarities between the two offences. Both require the penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth and both require a lack of consent on the victim’s part. The court will pay careful attention to these elements when determining the guilt of an individual and therefore it is necessary to be aware of the importance of these elements. 

Evolution of the law

The laws relating to rape and sexual assault have evolved over the years. Initially rape cases were mainly brought by women as men were the main perpetrators. This used to stem from the idea of a patriarchal society and promotion of masculinity and historically the police and lower courts would overlook the victim and support the perpetrator, as they would also look to uphold masculinity. Women suffered at the hands of men for decades and centuries before the laws evolved and started giving them more protection. Up until the early 1990s a married woman was unable to bring a case against her husband for rape, as it was a social understanding that as the woman was married her husband could have sexual intercourse with her at his time of choosing without her consent. This is no longer the case and women who suffer rape at the hands of their husbands can now bring a case against her husband.