What constitutes a "reasonable belief" in consent to sex? A thematic analysis

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Gray, Jacqueline M. (2015)

The prosecution of rape frequently requires a jury to decide whether the defendant reasonably believed that the complainant consented to sexual intercourse, thereby assuming a shared understanding of what constitutes a “reasonable belief in consent”. This study provides a thematic analysis of interviews with 18 university students, studying in London, UK, to explore their perceptions of “a reasonable belief in consent” when considering other people’s behaviour. The findings suggest that whilst these participants rejected many stereotypical ideas in judging reasonable belief in consent, the discussion regarding vulnerability, responsibility and the consumption of alcohol was less clear-cut. Discussions frequently sought to avoid directly blaming the victim for being raped, but would instead blame her for getting drunk or otherwise “allowing” herself to become vulnerable. The implications of these findings for the prosecution of rape and wider public education are considered
  • References (1)

    Payne, D.L., Lonsway, K.A. & Fitzgerald, L.F. (1999). Rape myth acceptance: Exploration of its structure and its measurement using the Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance Scale. Journal of Research in Personality, 33, 27 - 68.

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