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Sexual activity of any kind without consent or a reasonable belief as to consent—which is defined in law as “free agreement”—is criminal. Moreover, the courts have held that a person cannot consent to be assaulted where the accused intends to cause them injury, so it is not a defence to crimes of assault, culpable homicide or murder that the victim “consented” to being injured. We keep the criminal law under review, and we will carefully consider any proposals to reform the law in this area.
The cabinet secretary will be aware of the BBC research that found that a third of women had experienced unwanted violence during consensual sex. In addition to the answer to my first question, I ask for clarification on the use of the defence of consent in cases of violence against women, which is commonly known as the rough sex defence, and whether data is collected on that. Finally, is any data collected on women’s reports to the police of violence during consensual sex?
In the interest of brevity, I will write to the member with more detail, but I reiterate what I said in my opening answer: there cannot be consent to being injured, assaulted or murdered. I briefly met Fiona Mackenzie, who runs the We Can’t Consent To This campaign, and I have offered her another meeting, which Claire Baker can come to if she wishes. I would be happy to look at any specific proposals on data collection or the law that can send a clear message that women— or indeed anybody else—simply cannot consent to being injured, assaulted or murdered.