Does claiming a "sex game gone wrong" work?

In the UK, at the end of 2018, there was a great outcry at the sentencing of the partner of a young woman, Natalie Connolly, to 3 years and 8 months for her manslaughter. He’d claimed in his defence that Natalie had consented to “rough sex”, including beating and to sex acts that caused her terrible internal injury. The Crown Prosecution Service decided not to pursue a murder charge against him. But was this an unusual case: does claiming sex “gone wrong” work in a defendant's favour? In 45% of cases, claiming

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In the news: The fatal, hateful rise of choking during sex

We spoke to Anna Moore for this incredible piece, which Anna worked on with Coco Khan for the Guardian. It’s a must-read on the normalisation of choking in sex, and the use of consent claims in the killing of women and girls.

Jan Wynne-Jones knows almost nothing about her daughter Vicky’s last living moments. She only knows that Vicky, a tall, blond, 25-year-old newlywed who worked as an account manager and who could calculate a balance sheet or assemble a wardrobe without breaking a sweat, was strangled by her husband one night in November in 2009.

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MPs Harriet Harman and Mark Garnier take action - on "rough sex" defences

We’re very hopeful following MPs Harriet Harman and Mark Garnier’s announcement that they will take action over the use of “rough sex” defences. Mark is Natalie Connolly’s MP and Harriet inspired We Can’t Consent To This when she spoke out about Natalie’s killer’s sentence and Harriet’s fear that “rough sex defences would become the new “she asked for it” defence to murder of women.

Mark and Harriet have published a piece in the Huffington Post this week on the Domestic Abuse Bill now before Parliament:

[The Domestic Abuse Bill]… is another giant step away from the attitude that what happened between a man and his wife was a private issue and if he was violent it was probably because she brought it on herself.

But at the same time as we’ve been making progress, another version of “she was asking for it” has reared its ugly head. Men are now getting away with murder, literally, by using the “rough sex” defence. 

Though he might admit he caused injuries which led to her death, he claims it was not his fault as it was part of a “sex game gone wrong”. She, of course, is not there to say otherwise. So, he gets into the witness box and gives lurid, unchallengeable accounts of her addiction to violent sex and explains that the bruises that cover her body were what she wanted. The grieving relatives see him charged not with murder but only manslaughter. And they not only have to listen to him traducing her reputation in court, they have to see his description of her sexual proclivities splashed all over social media and in the newspapers. She’s dead so he gets to tell the story of how he was only doing what she wanted.

We now have the modern version of “she was asking for it”. It’s time we shut that down too and we can by adding it to the Domestic Abuse Bill.

Read the full piece here.

The Domestic Abuse Bill will apply to England and Wales and will have its second reading in Parliament later this year. We’ve previously asked for this bill to specifically allow for claims of consent to violence.

In the News: A Fifty Shades of Grey area over violent sex

Our campaign has been featured in this powerful long read piece by Louise Perry, in Standpoint magazine.

No one except John Broadhurst knows exactly what happened in the early hours of December 18, 2016. His version of events is as follows. He and his girlfriend Natalie Connolly spent the afternoon and evening drinking in a variety of bars and clubs before returning to his house in Staffordshire by taxi. The taxi driver testified in court that he left Connolly at the doorstep of the house. He was the last person, apart from Broadhurst, to see her alive.

Please read the full piece here.