law

Hierarchy of Transgression: Differentiating Sexual Violence, Sexual Assault and Rape

lawMany people use the terms sexual violence, sexual assault and rape interchangeably. In the criminal law parlance, there is a distinction among the three terms.

Nevertheless, the rationale behind these three concepts is the same: they are all an offence. They inflict physical and mental damage on an individual, which usually requires the help of a personal injury law firm, such as SeparovicLawyers.com.  The only difference is where they stand in the hierarchy of transgressions.

Sexual Violence

Sexual violence can be considered a blanket term for all sex crimes. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines sexual violence as ‘any sexual act or attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting, including but not limited to home and work.’ It should be noted that coercion encompasses physical force, psychological intimidation, blackmail, and threats.

Sexual Assault

In Australia, ‘sexual assault’ is not a legal term. But in this context, it is a form of sexual violence. The government defines it as ‘a range of unwanted sexual behaviours, such as comments, touching, fondling, fingering or masturbation to oral, anal, or vaginal sex.’

Rape

Essentially, rape falls under a sexual assault. Under the Australian law, rape is also known as the penetrative sexual offence.  It is an offence where the perpetrator penetrates the genitalia (including surgically constructed genitalia in some jurisdictions) or anus using the penis, an object, or any body part of another person. The lack of consent makes the sexual intercourse a crime. Consent, on the other hand, should be voluntary and free. It is not given voluntarily if the person is coerced, threatened, intoxicated or asleep, or the person does not understand the nature of the activity.

Sex crimes are one of the worst crimes a person can commit against another person. This offence goes beyond inflicting physical harm; it is also about exercising control and power over a person. It should be noted that each state in Australia might have different provisions and sanctions regarding these.