Brock Turner's Lawyers Have Begun The Appeals Process On The Grounds That He Committed "Outercourse", Whatever The Hell That Is
According to his lawyers, the jury did not have enough evidence to convict, and argued that he had committed "outercourse", which apparently means "a sexual act while clothed".
Content warning: this article discusses sexual assault.
Remember Brock Turner, the Stanford student who was found guilty on three felony charges of assault, and who was the subject of that powerful letter that went viral in 2016?
After he received a six-month jail sentence that he only served three months of, his lawyers have launched an appeal to have his conviction overturned, and their reasoning is… questionable.
His crack legal team are arguing that the jury did not have enough evidence to convict, and even if they did, Turner didn’t commit assault but actually “outercourse”, meaning a sexual act while clothed.
If you were like me and hadn’t heard the term until now, you might be amazed to know that it is actually a thing. Planned Parenthood defines it “other sexual activities besides vaginal sex”, which is slightly different to the definition being used by Turner’s lawyers.
One of the many problems with this idea of “outercourse” being significantly different from other forms of assault is that it completely ignores the effect of assault on the victim.
Assault is traumatising for someone whether it happens while they’re fully clothed, partially clothed, or completely undressed, and Brock Turner’s lawyers are awful for trying to undo what feminists have been fighting for for decades: legal acknowledgement of all forms of assault, not just the penis-in-vagina kind.
Not to mention, if the jury didn’t have sufficient evidence to convict, why was this not brought up during the initial trial, when both sides are traditionally expected to bring up all relevant evidence and counter-arguments?
Deputy Attorney General Alisha Carlile argued that there was “ample evidence”, and according to the Associated Press, the appeals court judges “appeared skeptical” of Turner’s lawyer’s arguments, which is a mood.
P.S. The original judge who was criticised for giving Turner such a lenient sentence? He was voted out of office last month. Nice.
Sorry To Ruin Your Day But There Is A Map Of More Than 1000 Women And Children Lost To Violence In Australia And It's Heartbreaking
The Red Heart Campaign, which was founded in 2015 to give victims of domestic violence a place to share their stories, has created an interactive map of Australia featuring the stories of over 1000 women and children whose lives have been lost to domestic violence.
The Red Heart Campaign, a project created by journalist Sherele Moody following a year of reporting on domestic violence in Australia, has launched an interactive map, The Australian Femicide Map, with the details of over 1000 women and children whose lives have been lost to domestic violence.
The map includes victims such as Eurydice Dixon, Luke Batty, Jill Meagher and Elijah Doughty, and victims will continue to be added to the map as the project grows.
It’s incredibly sobering to zoom in on the map and learn of crimes that took place near your home, or zoom in and be reminded of just how many people have been lost to domestic violence in just one part of your city.
I looked in my area and learned of the murder of 19-year-old Tosha Thakker in 2011. It took place in Croydon, the suburb I went to high school in, in the year I graduated, and I’d somehow never heard her name before.
Projects like Red Heart’s memorial and map are incredibly important as they remind us of the people behind the horrific headlines. The projects don’t focus on how their attacker was “such a nice person” or “a great father” up until they suddenly weren’t; instead, they focus on the victims whose lives were cut short. The memorial gives us faces and stories to remember these victims by, and the map places their stories within a context that is incredibly familiar to us – our own.
Spanish Lawmakers Propose A New 'Yes Means Yes' Approach To Consent, Which Would Be Huge
The move follows the acquittal of five men accused of gang-raping an 18-year-old woman at Pamplona's running of the bulls festival in 2016.
The Spanish government has plans to introduce an affirmative consent – that is, ‘yes means yes’ – law that would remove the ambiguity present in many assault cases that make it to trial. The law would mean that anything other than explicit affirmative consent means no.
The government’s decision comes after outrage over the “wolf pack”, or la manada, case, in which five men who were jailed for sexually abusing an 18-year-old woman at the running of the bulls festival in Pamplona were acquitted.
Currently under Spanish law, to classify as ‘rape’, the assault must involve violence and intimidation. This definition of rape presupposes that all rape happens at the hands of a stranger, in an alley, and involves a weapon or some other means of intimidation, when that simply isn’t the case: three out of four rapes are committed by someone known to the victim.
Spain wouldn’t be the first country to introduce affirmative consent laws. Sweden passed a similar law earlier this year, and the UK, Belgium, Ireland, Cyprus, Luxembourg, and Germany all have consent-based definitions of rape on the books. California and New York also have their own state-based affirmative consent laws, and several college campuses around the US have introduced their own affirmative consent policies. Canadian law states that “sexual touching is only lawful if the person affirmatively communicated their consent, whether through words or conduct”, as well as “silence or passivity does not equal consent”.
A female protestor in Madrid shouts against the release of ‘La Manada’.
Approaching consent from a ‘yes means yes’ perspective means acknowledging that not saying ‘no’ doesn’t equal giving consent. There are many reasons someone might not say no – they might worry about what will happen if they do, they might have frozen up in response to the assault – so the approach encourages people to seek freely-given and enthusiastic consent before engaging in sexual acts with another person.
A legal professor at the University of A Coruña who helped draft Spain’s new law said that lawmakers understand consent as not just being verbal but also tacit, as something expressed through body language.
“It can still be rape even if the victim doesn’t resist,” Patricia Faraldo Cabana said. “If she is naked, actively taking part and enjoying herself, there is obviously consent. If she’s crying, inert like an inflatable doll and clearly not enjoying herself, then there isn’t.”
The anonymous account of an evening spent with Aziz Ansari is being pointed to as an example of where tacit expressions of disinterest were ignored, and where an affirmative consent model would benefit both parties. Instead of seeking affirmative consent from the woman’s words or body language, Ansari ignored all signs that she wasn’t interested in a sexual encounter and turned the evening into “the worst night of [her] life”.
As for Australia, The Conversation included the below chart of consent laws around the country in Terry Goldsworthy’s discussion of affirmative consent from earlier this year. The chart shows that the ACT is the only state or territory that doesn’t define consent.
Currently, Tasmania is the only state with affirmative consent laws, but the NSW government announced in May that it had referred the state’s consent laws to the NSW Law Reform Commission for review.
Consent laws as they currently exist haven’t necessarily resulted in the best outcomes for victims of sexual assault. While affirmative consent as a concept is spreading, it’s enshrined in law in a minority of places, and it remains to be seen whether the adoption of it becomes a widespread phenomenon, and whether the adoption of affirmative consent laws improves outcomes for victims who decide to take their cases to trial.