Is Sex by Deception a Form of Rape?

Laws are seeking to elucidate the problem of “rape by fraud.”

Ms. Short, 70, wants a universal law stating that consent is “freely given, knowledgeable, and informed agreement.” This may sound obvious, but it’s actually not, because there’s no universal definition of consent in the United States. Each state defines it differently, if it defines it at all.

“Most people think all types of agreement are consent,” said Ms. Short, who has written three books and done a TedX Talk on the subject. “They’re not.” While Ms. Short does not equate trickery to obtain sex with violent rape, she does believe it should be a Class D or E felony, with jail sentences of one to four years and a fine of $10,000.

Ms. Short says there is a clear distinction between consent and assent. “Consent means ‘freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement.’ Assent means ‘agreement on the face of it.’ So, when someone tells you a lie, you can be agreeing on the face of it but you’re not knowledgeable or informed. You can assent and agree, but that doesn’t mean you’re consenting.”

Some worry that legislating deception is a slippery slope, because where do you draw the line? Is it deception if a woman dates two men concurrently and they don’t know about each other? Or what if you inject Botox into your crow’s feet and say you are younger than you are, or say “I love you” in order to have sex, but don’t mean it? In 2014, a sexual assault by fraud bill was introduced in New Jersey after a woman was impregnated by a man who falsely claimed to be a British spy. The bill went nowhere.

Ms. Short is hopeful that the bill will pass. “No one should be tricked, deceived, coerced, violently overwhelmed, drugged or intoxicated into sexual conduct,” she said. “Everyone has the right to determine who they engage with sexually based on both knowledge of the action and clear and informed knowledge of the actor.”

Source: Is Sex by Deception a Form of Rape? – The New York Times

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