Oct 052016

California Governor Jerry Brown

Governor Jerry Brown has signed many new bills and amendments to existing laws, recently. Among them are three pertaining to rape. One of them changes, one expands and one modifies existing California rape law.

Senate Bill No. 813: NO Limitation Statute In Rape Cases In California
A rape is s rape whether it took place yesterday or 25 years ago. In a rape case, the perpetrator may not be easy to identify, find or prosecute (think of Bill Cosby!) while the rape victim / survivor is effectively sentenced to a life with a trauma. Rape charges and / or prosecution of a rapist however have a 10 year limitation statute. Now, thanks to Governor Brown – at least in California – rape survivors will be able to pursue and get justice without time limitations.
“This bill would allow the prosecution of rape, sodomy, lewd or lascivious acts, continuous sexual abuse of a child, oral copulation, and sexual penetration, that are committed under certain circumstances, as specified, to be commenced at any time. The bill would apply to these crimes committed after January 1, 2017, and to crimes for which the statute of limitations that was in effect prior to January 1, 2017, has not run as of January 1, 2017.” Read full text of the new law

Assembly Bill 701: Expanded Definition Of Rape
Expanding the legal definition of rape will allow / facilitate the prosecution of a wider range of sex crimes as well as increase sentences for sex offenders. The new bill states that in California “all forms of nonconsensual sexual assault may be considered rape”. Rightfully so, any type of sexual assault is rape. Read full text of the new law

Assembly Bill 2888: Harsher Sentencing Guidelines For Rape Of Victims Incapable Of Giving Consent
This bill clearly aims at preventing lenient sentences for rape of unconscious or otherwise incapacitated victims. If you recall the recent case of California’s rapist Brock Turner, you may remember that the law recommended up to 14 year prison sentence; prosecutors called for 6 years and yet, Turner (thanks to the judge’s way too lenient recommendation!) was released from jail after only 3 months!
“This bill would prohibit a court from granting probation or suspending the execution or imposition of a sentence if a person is convicted of rape, sodomy, penetration with a foreign object, or oral copulation if the victim was either unconscious or incapable of giving consent due to intoxication.” Read full text of the new law

Some people still believe that rape is “only” a sex crime. It isn’t. It’s a crime of violence, it asserts the perpetrator’s domination over the victim by force. In this aspect, rape is no different than murder or armed robbery, all three involve assault.

From now on (well, starting in January 2017) in California rapists will be prosecuted like all other violent criminals. No more excuses (no statute of limitation); no more lenient sentences (mandatory sentencing); no brakes on technicalities with the newly expanded definition of rape.

Rape is the most degrading and humiliating of crimes. Until now so was the judicial process: it often demeaned rape survivors more than the rapists. No wonder the majority of rape cases are not reported. The new legislation changes the power differential between rape victims and rape perpetrators in California’s court system. It is likely to encourage more reporting and – let’s hope! – prevent rapes.

In 2016 Governor Brown and California Legislature took a stand on behalf of rape victims and survivors. From now on, with no statute of limitation on rape charges; the definition of rape expanded to include all forms of rape and with rape victim’s incapacity to give consent no longer held against the rape victim but the rape perpetrator, there is new hope for justice for rape victims. The new Bills empower – restore dignity to – rape victims.

The three recently passed Bills change the legal landscape of rape law. Hopefully, they’ll serve as inspiration and models for change of national rape law.

The new legislative acts pertaining to rape are sure to contribute to Governor Jerry Brown’s legacy. By declaring allegiance to victims’ rights and – dare I say? – women, the Governor pioneered new approach to justice for rape victims and made ALL Californians proud.



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Jul 192016
Amy Schumer: Non-Consensual Sex

Amy Schumer

In a recent Marie Claire interview the popular comedienne shared that her first sexual experience wasn’t consensual. Many media outlets and bloggers ran with the story, referring to Amy’s experience as “rape”.

Is every instance of non-consensual sex, rape? Who has the authority to slap a label on another person’s experience?

As a public figure, Amy gives interviews. It is up to her what aspects of her personal life she chooses to share with media and the public at large and how. She spoke of non- consensual sex, not of rape.

Anything L.A. Magazine likes Amy Schumer, the artist. We see her as talented, funny, pretty and entertaining.

Amy Schumer became a household name as a hard-hitting, over-sharing stand-up comedienne appearing on Comedy Central and Last Comic Standing. Since then she’s proven her talent most notably on “Inside Amy Schumer” and “Trainwreck”. She is an accomplished writer, actress, and producer. Right now Amy is getting ready for a 50+ city world tour. Her memoir will make its debut next month. The woman isn’t wasting time!

Long story short, there are many reasons to like her. We are among Amy’s fans. There is nothing wrong with that. Re-interpreting another person’s experience by either a media outlet or a fan is. Using other person’s bad experience to explore the topic – or our own opinion on the subject – may not be a great idea, either.

Amy Schumer is an adult, independent and intelligent woman. To her it was “non-consensual sex”. If every instance of non-consensual sex is rape to you, you are entitled to your opinion. With that said, I don’t believe that anyone but Amy Schumer herself has the right to define her own experiences. She described it as unfortunate, unpleasant and stressful. She didn’t cry rape. She didn’t have the perpetrator prosecuted. She doesn’t identify herself as a rape victim or a rape survivor. Why would anyone want to bully her into victimhood?

Not every instance of non-consensual sex is rape. Not every person subjected to non-consensual sex is – or identifies herself as – a rape victim. Defining someone as a rape victim – without the person’s consent, yet another violation of personhood – is disempowering and perpetuates the effects of an already bad experience.

The fact that Amy Schumer is a public figure shouldn’t deprive her of the right to live and interpret her life on her own terms. I don’t know who her first sex partner was and I certainly don’t think of him well. But it’s obvious to me which one of the participants of the questionable sex act overcame its distaste with her dignity intact. I for one wouldn’t try to reframe Amy’s unfortunate sexual encounter as anything that would take away from her pride or power.

Anything L.A. Magazine’s Entertainment Editor / I. Sturm



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