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Of Rape And Consent...
 
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30-Dec-2014  
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How often do women falsely accuse men of rape? Often? Sometimes? Almost never? And, how swift can one (the accused) be behind bars as soon as the allegation is made?

Whatever its origins, rape is a serious crime and is treated as a felony in most countries such as Ghana with common-law systems. In many rape trials, the guilt or innocence of the accused hinges on whether or not the victim consented to sexual intercourse.

The determination of consent often can lead to distressing cross-examinations of rape victims in court. As a result, many rape victims choose not to report the crime to the police or refuse to press charges against their assailants.

Determining whether an incident of sexual intercourse was consensual can be very difficult. A man charged with rape and a woman alleging that she has been raped might have very different perspectives about what happened, even if they are both sincerely trying to give a truthful account.

Lawmakers and courts have over the years, struggled with the issue of whether to define consent from the victim's point of view. To do so creates the risk of punishing a person (the accused rapist) who mistakenly thought another person was consenting to sexual relations.

Historically, a person could only be charged with rape if force was used to subdue the victim. A person commits aggravated sexual assault if he or she wounds, maims, disfigures, or endangers the life of another person while sexually assaulting that person.

However, for the purpose of determining whether a sexual assault has occurred, the statute in Ghana defines consent as the 'voluntary agreement of the complainant to engage in the sexual activity in question.'

If the complainant is incapable of consenting to the activity or if the complainant expresses, by words or conduct, a lack of agreement to engage in the activity, a defendant may not successfully defend against charges of sexual assault on the grounds that the complainant consented.

Two years ago, a woman writing in the comments section of a website in the United States, going by the name, Joanie Faircloth, claimed Oberst raped her when she was a teenager. The charge spread across the Internet; Oberst denied it and brought a libel suit against Faircloth when she refused to retract the story. In July of the same year, she completely recanted, admitting that she had made it all up to get attention.

Yet instead of showing sympathy for the ordeal of the musician—one known for being supportive of feminist issues—some chided him for taking legal action to defend himself against a false, career-damaging charge.

In the Daily Dot, pop culture critic, Chris Ostendorf decried the lawsuit, arguing that it could intimidate real victims of rape and that it promoted the idea of men as victims of false accusations—even though that’s exactly what Oberst was. After Oberst dropped the suit, Bustle’s Caroline Pate praised his decision and referred to the saga as “a roller-coaster for both parties”—treating the false accuser and the wrongly accused as morally equivalent—and called the revelation of Oberst’s innocence “crushingly disappointing.”

If my memory serves me right, there are currently no laws in Ghana which allow those accused of rape to remain anonymous, until they are found guilty, so anyone accused of rape has no right to anonymity or protection under the current law (would be glad for corrections). Support groups for men falsely accused of rape say the problem “doesn’t end when the accusation is proven untrue, as the claim remains on their criminal record until they apply to get it removed – which can take several months.”

The question is: Why do some women falsely accuse men of rape? You’d have to be seriously disturbed to even contemplate ruining an innocent man’s life wouldn’t you?

Don’t tear me apart yet, I am not by any stretch of imagination impugning that the 19 year old lady at the centre of the KKD rape saga has done something wrong. That would be what ace journalist; Kwaku Baako will call ‘premature ejaculation’. I am not by anyway pissing into the matter but just sharing thoughts about the act of raping and the subsequent allegations levelled against people thereof.

I do agree that the issue of rape is repugnant to the body, mind and soul of the victim but a de facto presumption of guilt in alleged sexual offenses is as dangerous as a presumption of guilt in any crime, and for the same reasons: it upends the foundations on which our system of justice rests and creates a risk of ruining innocent lives.

Lest I forget, before the much talked about KKD saga, I had dreamt notoriously about how a male friend of mine was accused by another of rape that turned out to be false. And indeed, there are some women who will go at every length to ensure that they get you down as a way of demanding their pound of flesh. Some of them wouldn’t even think twice about falsely accusing a man to save face, feel better, or get revenge.

Yes, I have heard arguments about the morality bit of the entire saga. Fair enough! Let’s stand on rooftops, scream, bastardize and critique KKD for ‘stooping to conquer ( sleeping with a 19 year old girl) at his age where ideally one does not expect of a person of his stature to do. Men o Men! What will men not do to destroy their own reputations because of women? Many men great and strong have been in the books of women for the same reasons.

Does it mean, as soon as my girlfriend, my wife or let say, any female accuse me of raping her, I must be arrested and put behind bars up to 48 hours before I could be heard? And I am not entitled to any bail? What of if the allegations levelled against me turns out to be false? In other jurisdictions, the accuser is charged for perjury if the allegation proves to be false. I don’t know of cases that have turned this way in our Ghanaian court system though but while it is our desire to protect religiously victims of rape, we should also look at the issue of arresting and putting people behind bars as soon as they are accused.

But no matter how it is, if it is one false accusation, or a thousand. These false allegations are completely devastating to the men that are wrongfully accused. Their lives are permanently ruined and shattered once a woman cries rape, and even one innocent life destroyed is one too many.

Rebuilding a damaged reputation can be as tough as a camel going through the eye of a needle.

If the law stays like this, just as mortals are like pencils in the hands of the creator, men will continue to be like pencils in the hands of women who want their pound of flesh. Before you could say Jack Toronto, you are behind bars while millions of social media enthusiasts feast on your predicament. While the social media experts deal with you, Newspapers, Television stations, online media resources and the various radio stations will further sink you with screaming headlines that can wake even a dead lizard.
 
 
 
Source: Richard Kwadwo Nyarko/[email protected]
 
 

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