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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 April 2006, 06:19 GMT 07:19 UK
Views sought on sexual crime law
Prisoner - generic
Concerns were raised about the level of rape convictions
A consultation on sexual offences law in Scotland is drawing to a close, but people are still able submit their views before the 1 May deadline.

In June 2004, the first minister tasked the Scottish Law Commission (SLC) with reviewing definitions of crimes, levels of proof required and consent issues.

The SLC has asked people to give views via its website at scotlaw.gov.uk.

Jack McConnell called for the review by the independent body after high-profile court cases in 2004.

One of these involved German tourist Bayram Cinci, who was alleged to have forced a Swedish backpacker to have sex with him in a shower at a hostel in Oban.

Cinci, who had denied rape, was jailed for five years in 2002 but was freed on appeal when judges decided there was insufficient evidence to prove that the woman did not consent to having sex.

There may be many different views of what 'consent' is, or of what sort of behaviour can be evidence of 'consent'
Fiona Southward, SLC

In an accompanying article for the BBC Scotland news website, Fiona Southward of the SLC said the review has set out to end ambiguity about what constitutes consent.

It has offered two suggestions of "free agreement" and "positive co-operation" which could be defined in statute, while the SLC still remains open to other proposals.

She said: "There may be many different views of what 'consent' is, or of what sort of behaviour can be evidence of 'consent'.

"If there is no definition, then the door is open to prejudices about the way women dress, drink and behave.

Male rape

"It also means there is nothing in legislation to say how the law expects a person to behave and how people are to understand the behaviour of others."

The SLC has suggested drawing up a list of possible scenarios which would assist jurors in establishing when consent has not been given.

The main proposals also covered by the consultation are the redefinition of rape - to include male rape, protection of those vulnerable to sexual exploitation, application of the law equally to men and women and a review of rules of evidence.

Once the consultation period has been completed, the commission intends to publish a final report and draft legislation for consideration by ministers and the Scottish Parliament next year.

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16 Jan 04 |  Scotland

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