Sexual assault crimes are gender-neutral. Definitions of sexual assault offences must not exclude any potential victim/survivor or perpetrator, regardless of sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability status, marital status or any other status. All victim/survivors should have equal protection of the law.

In some Commonwealth countries penetrative sexual offences, such as rape and child rape, are conceived in law (and in common understanding) as a crime that can only be committed by a male against a female. Accordingly, in many countries rape is limited to sexual intercourse and the penetration of a vagina by a penis. Excluding the rape of males is discriminatory and not good practice. Some countries that maintain ‘buggery’ and ‘sodomy’ laws may criminalise non- consensual anal sex under such provisions. However, good practice requires the repeal of these crimes and for anal ‘rape’ to be included in the general sexual assault provisions, for example as ‘rape’ and ‘sexual assault’, and in child sexual offences. All of these crimes should be gender-neutral.

Meeting this good practice indicator does not preclude including additional specific offences of violence against women and girls, for example in acknowledgement that they are overwhelmingly the target of many forms of violence, including sexual assault and domestic violence. This is an approach a small number of countries have taken.

GOOD PRACTICE IN HUMAN RIGHTS COMPLIANT SEXUAL OFFENCES LAWS

GOOD PRACTICE IN HUMAN RIGHTS COMPLIANT SEXUAL OFFENCES LAWS

This report lays out criteria for good practice human rights compliant laws across four areas of sexual offences legislation, namely rape/sexual assault, age of consent for sexual conduct, treatment of consensual same-sex sexual activity between adults, and sexual offences in relation to people with disability.

CHANGING LAWS, CHANGING LIVES

CHANGING LAWS, CHANGING LIVES

Since 2015, the Trust's legislative reform programme has been analysing the need for the reform of sexual offence laws and delivering technical assistance to support such reform. Find out more about our Changing Laws, Changing Lives programme.

NEXT STEPS TOWARDS REFORM: AFRICA

NEXT STEPS TOWARDS REFORM: AFRICA

This report examines the status of sexual offences legislation in Commonwealth Africa, assessing good practice and identifying where there are gaps in protection, with a particular focus on women, children, LGBT people and people with disability.

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