Britain

‘Rough sex defence’: Call for law change after Grace Millane murder

The increasing use of the so called "rough sex defence" by men accused of killing women has led campaigners to call for a change in the law.

Its use has increased 10-fold since the turn of the millennium, according to one women's rights group, the only body to carry out detailed research on the phenomenon.

It follows the conviction on Friday of a man, who murdered British backpacker Grace Millane.

She was strangled by the man in his Auckland hotel room in December last year.

Jurors heard the defendant and Ms Millane had met via the Tinder dating app on 1 December, the day before her 22nd birthday.

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They spent several hours drinking cocktails in bars around Auckland before going to the man's hotel.

Throughout the trial, the 27-year-old, who cannot be named because of a court order, claimed that Ms Millane had died accidentally, the victim of extreme but consensual sex.

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Image: They spent several hours drinking cocktails in bars around Auckland

In the end, the jury found against the man, but not before intimate details of the young holidaymaker's final moments were shared in open court, outraging her parents and prompting calls for a change in the law.

Susan Edwards, a barrister and law professor, has spent years campaigning for a change in legislation.

She said the New Zealand case was just the latest example of defence teams trying to capitalise on shifting attitudes towards increasingly violent sex.

"What's happening is that the defence and the defendants are manipulating what is violent and misogynist violence against women and saying that they have asked for it, that they have consented.

"I think there's been an alarming increase in the last few years of legal teams using this kind of defence and I think because there's a narrative in society of pornography in the media and much more generally, then jurors might be more persuaded to accept that women are more consenting to this type of dreadful behaviour.

"But it's clear that defendants are in fact manipulating a narrative and women are being subjected to increasing levels of violence to which they have not consented.

"Rather than saying 'she provoked me, I killed her', they are now saying 'this is what she wanted, she consented to this kind of behaviour'."

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The verdict in the Grace Millane killing came just a week after a significant development in another high profile case in the UK.

Millionaire property developer John Broadhurst lost an appeal to cut his three-and-half year sentence for the manslaughter of his girlfriend Natalie Connolly.

An original murder charge was reduced to manslaughter after he successfully argued his partner had consented.

The case sparked the creation of the We Can't Consent To This campaign group.

The group's founder, Fiona MacKenzie, carried oRead More – Source