Four bi-partisan legislators – Rep. Chris Campbell, D-West Lafayette, Rep. Sue Errington, D-Muncie, Rep. Sharon Negele, R-Attica and Rep. Donna Schaibley, R-Carmel have co-authored a bill, House Bill 1160 for introduction to the Indiana General Assembly that would clearly define consent.
Currently, Indiana does not have a legal definition. In very basic terms, in our state, sex without consent is not a crime unless there is force, the threat of force or incapacitation.
In other words, if a person is attempting to coerce you into having unwanted sex even though you are repeatedly saying “no” or “stop” and it happens anyway, according to current law, that is not a crime.
HB 1160 defines consent as an offense involving a sex crime. It provides that a person commits rape if the person engages in sexual activity with another person and the other person: (1) has not given consent; or (2) submits to the sexual activity under the belief that the person committing the act is someone the victim knows, other than the person committing the act, and such belief is intentionally induced by any artifice, pretense, or concealment practiced by the person.
Why is the legislation important? Because when a person says “no” it should mean something in the eyes of the law. Most of us know someone who has been in a horrifying situation where their words of protest and saying “no” were ignored. Most of us know someone who felt so intimidated by the perpetrator’s status or authority and were afraid to say “no.”
Consent was not given. That must mean something.
If the assumption is that a rape has only occurred when the victim resists, fights back or is horribly injured, we are remarkably undermining, devaluing and dismissing the experiences of most victims. There is no other crime that requires a person to put themselves in harm’s way to prove that a crime was committed. Under current statute, rape is the only crime with that exception. By undermining, devaluing and dismissing this crime it minimizes the extreme and life altering harm to victims.
Rape is one of the most under-reported crimes. The primary reasons are that victims feel they will not be believed, they will be blamed, or they feel the perpetrator will not be held accountable.
This must stop.
The Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault and Human Trafficking and Women4Change stand in support of HB1160 and are grateful for the legislators’ leadership.
There is so much work that needs to be done to reduce the incidences and eventually eliminate sexual violence. HB 1160 is a strong step in the right direction. Contact your state legislators today and tell them you support HB1160, and you believe sex without consent should be a crime in Indiana.