Effectiveness of Sexual Offences Act 2003


Sexual Ethics - Newman 2015

  • There is a developing liberal sexual ethics in Western culture
  • Mutual consent is considered to legitimise any sexual activity between adults
  • Traditional sexual ethics was constrained by old historical views of immorality guided by religion
  • The shackles of traditional sexual ethics have been cast off
  • Allowing us to live in an era of moral insight
  • Where much more sexual difference is accepted 
  • But how far does the SOA 2003 allow this?
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Limitations - Russell 2013

  • in order for sexual difference to truly be accepted in society, the law needs to recognice sexual difference
  • the SOA 2003 sought to stamp out discriminatory aspects of the law but failed in a number of ways
  • sexual indifference exists in society and the law continues to prosecute against them
  • prosecution of sexual differences reinforces views that they are deviant, abnormal and immoral
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Limitations - Jones 2011

  • s.69 of the SOA 2003 criminalises a human who has sex with a non-human
  • this law views this type of behaviour as deranged sexual behaviour, it is based on public repulsion, dignity of the human and the fact that animals cannot consent to sexual activity
  • laws which opress sexual difference may as well be called 'laws of disgust'
  • criminalisation of besiality is accepted because the act is regarded as deeply offesive
  • but LIBERALS say that you cannot criminalise an act that takes place in private and no harm is identifiable
  • yes animals cannot give informed consent to sexual activity with a human but there are many activities which humans inflict harm on animals without gaining their consent
  • animals do not consent to being killed so that humans can eat their flesh
  • animals do not consent to being artificially inseminated so that they can produce milk at the rate humans need it
  • animals do not consent to a lifetime of cruel harmful tests so that humans can have products
  • these acts serve human interest so they are perceieved as fine!
  • it is a bit weak to claim that animals have the right to sexual freedom when we take away their lives in the meat and dairy industry
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Limitations - Russell 2013

Gender Neutrality & **** 

  • gender neutrality within the law was considered to be a step towards equality and a tolerant society; especially within ****
  • the law takes away the fact that the reality of **** is experienced largely by females
  • gender neutrality disguises dominant sexual patterns of male dominance and female passivity in society 
  • both men and women experience great harm when the victim of ****
  • but women are reminded that they are sexually fragile as they are seen as weka, confused and emotional in society 
  • when the victim of ****, this confirms this for them
  • the fact that women are still seen in this way does not make women feel comfortable enough to report instances of ****
  • the law needs to recognise that it is different for women in order to women to feel as if they can report instances of **** 
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Limitations - Russell 2013


  • the law describes a lack of consent as the violation of another person's freedom to withhold sexual contact
  • it the person being penetrated said no to sex, there was no consent
  • the person penetrating their partner are generally men
  • showing that men are dominating and assertive and women are weak and at the mercy of their male partner
  • it is important for the law to recognise that sexual partners are responsible for the welfare of each other 
  • gender neutrality of laws concerning consent causes problems because it takes away that a lack of consent is different for women
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Limitations - Grunby 2011

Consent Difficulties 

  • the definition of consent is difficult to understand
  • it is difficult for the jury to understand what consent actually is
  • meaning that they often rely on their own personal definitions of what consent means and draw conclusions to consent cases in that way
  • the definition of consent often causes confusion so is discarded
  • this is why there are very different outcomes to very similar cases of consent 
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Limitations - Liberty 2015

Criminalising Children 

  • the soa 2003 now criminalises sexual activity between children between the ages of 13-16
  • this was done to stop exploitation of children by children 
  • this is a worthy reason to change the law and it was good the law identified this as an issue 
  • but by criminalising "widely occuring and harmless sexual activity among 13-16 year olds"
  • we are suppressing sexual exploitation
  • perhaps this is why we have a lot of problems surrounding the acceptance of sexual difference in society 
  • the law is quite conflicting
  • it continues to suppress children's education on sexual difference by criminalising them
  • but seeks to challenge acceptance of sexual diversity in society 
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Sexual Ethics and the SOA 2003

Bennion 2003

  • the act follows a victorian spinster's view of sex
  • it believes that if children are merely touched by sex they are scarred and marred
  • but bennion 2003 are far more robust than that and they are able to understand issues surrounding sexualty
  • they learn sex by themselves

Law and Ethics

  • some acts are deemed immoral and criminal, and some innocent and healthy
  • there are 57 sexual offences - many of which are new - is this a sign of progress of sexual acceptance?
  • the act does not recognise that for a crime to be a crime it needs to be vile and vicious
  • it is not just unacceptable to the majority 
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Sexual Ethics and the SOA 2003

Grey 1993

o   Grey wrote, ‘children are sexual beings. Adolescents are highly sexual beings’.              

  • So, this sex drive begins well before the age of consent.
  • Sexual exploring with age mates is an important part of growing up.
  • …and criminal law should not interfere with that.
  • If someone if a ‘highly sexual being’ than it is obvious that they need a suitable outlet. This could be a matter of human rights.
  • Sexual exploration is a natural part of development. 

I think that by children writers refer to those just under the age of consent?

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