Monday, December 6, 2010

The Slippery Slope Of "Advance Consent"

Canada's Supreme Court is currently considering a case that could have serious implications for future sexual assault cases.

A Canadian woman consented to erotic asphyxiation with her husband, but not anal penetration. She eventually passed out, and woke up to find that she had been anally penetrated with a dildo. The woman pressed sexual assault charges against her husband.

A lower court convicted the man, but it was appealed and is now being considered by the Canadian Supreme Court. The defense is insisting that by agreeing to erotic asphyxiation, the survivor had consented to sexual activity, implying blanket consent on all sexual activity. The claim that the woman gave advance consent to activity that would occur while she was unconscious was not only incorrect, but besides the point. "Advance Consent" would take away a person's right to change their mind. Someone can say "yes" a hundred times, but if one "no" is heard, the sexual activity must stop. This can't happen if someone is unconscious or otherwise incapacitated.

The blanket consent defense sounds very similar to defenders of marital rape or rape that occurs in a relationship. The idea that once someone consents to sex once, it applies to all future cases or all possible sexual activities is just plain wrong. The Canadian Supreme Court has an opportunity to show how important un-coerced, consent is. Alternatively, they have the option of setting back rights to one's own body quite a few years. Hopefully they choose correctly.

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