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Rape Is Legal in North Carolina if the Victim Initially Consented

The judicial system has been reprimanded for years for rarely punishing rapists, however many victims are assured that, at the very least, their rapists are legally considered rapists. However, North Carolina is the only state in the U.S. where a victim cannot legally revoke consent.

Anyone with common human decency should know that when consent is never given or withdrawn, sex is rape. This should be common sense. However, North Carolinians Amy Guy and Aaliyah Palmer found that this was not the case in their state, and have pushed to change these laws. Guy was raped by her estranged husband after he approached her, angry and intoxicated, and she initially consented to get the counter over with. However, she then changed her mind as he became violent.

Similarly, Palmer, was at a party when she initially consented to sex with a man and quickly changed her mind when he began violently ripping out her hair. These are just two women, amongst many, who found that they were not protected under the law. Both of them were willing to be identified in order to share their stories and fight for change.

This all stems back to a 1979 North Carolina state Supreme Court case, State v. Way. A woman in Mecklenburg County was raped after initially consenting, and lower courts agreed the act was rape. However, when this case was taken to the state’s supreme court, it was decided that a sexual act cannot be consented rape if a woman had given prior consent. (Ironically, the courts were legally permitted to change their minds on the matter, while women cannot.) This case set a precedent that has been reinforced time and time again.

Therefore, once consent is given, you are helpless to your partner’s wishes.

Truly, this is an outrageous violation of human rights. State Senator Jeff Jackson is one of many who recognize this and has introduced a bill that would change this. Jackson said the following in an interview with Elura Nanos: “North Carolina is the only state in the country where no doesn’t really mean no. Right now, if a woman tells a man to stop having sex he is under no legal obligation to do so, as long as she initially consented. If sex turns violent, the woman has no right to tell the man he must stop.”

“This really shouldn’t be a controversial matter. I believe this bill will inevitably pass, and when it does, my bet is it passes unanimously. No one can seriously defend this loophole in our rape law.”

However, the bill is currently stalled and is unlikely to become a law anytime soon. In the meantime, human rights will continue to be violated and more rapists will walk free. So, as usual, be a decent human being and stay mindful of your partner’s wishes.

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Grace Miller
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I am a high school student at Sanger High in California. I am an activist & intersectional feminist. My biggest hobbies include writing poetry, participating in Speech and Debate, and doing yoga.

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