The so-called “rough sex gone wrong” defence will be outlawed in new domestic abuse legislation, a justice minister has told MPs.
Alex Chalk said it was “unconscionable” that the defence can be used in court to justify or excuse the death of a woman “simply because she consented”. He said it would be made “crystal clear” in the Domestic Abuse Bill that it was not acceptable.
The bill, for England and Wales, is due to become law later this year.
The campaign group We Can’t Consent To This, which wants the defence outlawed, said the minister’s response was “a big step forward”.
The group says the “rough sex” defence can result in a lesser sentence.
Campaigners want to make it the expectation that murder charges are brought against those suspected of killing a person during sex.
As it stands, if someone kills another person during sexual activity they could be charged with manslaughter alone. To murder someone, there needs to have been an intention to kill that person or to cause them grievous bodily harm (GBH).
We Can’t Consent To This has collated 60 examples of women “who were killed during so-called ‘sex games gone wrong'” in the UK, since 1972.
The group claims that 45% of these cases ended in a “lesser charge of manslaughter, a lighter sentence or the death not being investigated as a crime at all”.
There are also 115 people – all but one of whom were women – who have had to attend court where it is claimed they consented to violent injury, the group has said.
The violence used in the non-fatal assaults included waterboarding, wounding, strangulation, beating and asphyxiation.
Alex Chalk said: “It is unconscionable for defendants to suggest that the death of a woman is justified, excusable or legally defensible because that woman had engaged in violent and harmful sexual activity which resulted in her death, simply because she consented.”
The We Can’t Consent to This campaign group said what had happened in Parliament “was genuinely a big step forward”, adding: “We should know within weeks what their proposals are and if they’ve gone far enough.”
Extracts from a longer news report at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-53064086