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Last Updated: Monday, 30 January 2006, 17:23 GMT
Rape law change plan put forward
Distressed woman
Corroboration in rape cases is being examined by legal experts
A group of experts has reviewed rape law, proposing changes in proving guilt and extending the offence to include male victims.

Jury members cannot at the moment convict a man if it is only his word against that of the alleged victim.

Proposals from the Scottish Law Commission also include widening the definition of rape to include attacks on men.

The body said a perception existed that the law was in confusion.

Members asked people to have their say on whether the need for corroborating evidence should be removed and, if so, for which types of sex crime.

The existing crime of rape is defined too narrowly
Gerry Maher QC
Law Commission

They also suggested a clear definition of what consent to sex meant.

It could include a list of situations where consent could not be given, such as where people were drunk or drugged.

The commission, an independent body set up in 1965 to promote law reform, said it was the first systematic review carried out into rape law in Scotland.

Spokesman Professor Gerry Maher said: "The existing crime of rape is defined too narrowly.

"Our recommendation is that rape should cover both male and female victims. Having sexual offences based on gender distinction is wrong.

"The law should give the same protection to men and women and to boys and girls."

The QC added: "People should also be free to follow their own sexual preferences, provided that these are based on the genuine consent of everyone involved.

Elish Angiolini QC
Elish Angiolini said rape victims had to have confidence in the law

"One reason why rape and other sexual offences may be difficult to prove is the need for evidence to corroborate the complainer's own evidence."

The consultation period runs until 1 May and draft legislation was expected to be published next year.

Scotland's solicitor general and prosecutors from across the UK held talks last year to discuss how to improve the investigation of rape cases.

Elish Angiolini QC and Harriet Harman, Solicitor General for England and Wales, met in Edinburgh for the first event of its kind in the UK.

Ms Angiolini said at the time rape victims needed to have confidence in the legal system.

Watch why the changes are suggested

Summit focuses on rape response
21 Feb 05 |  Scotland
Rape ruling leads to law review
03 Jun 04 |  Scotland
Date rape awareness drive
14 Dec 03 |  Scotland
Ministers may consider rape law
31 Jul 03 |  Scotland
Trauma of reporting rape
18 Jul 03 |  UK

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