Deception: When Is It Rape?

So, you meet this guy, right? He’s hot. He’s funny. You’re interested. You sleep with him. And the next day, he tells you that he’s the son of the man who burned your dad’s business to the ground–literally and metaphorically. Or, he has HIV. Or, he’s actually your cousin. Or, he murdered a friend. You are appalled and disgusted. You feel violated.

Were you raped? I mean, if you were fully informed, you would never have had sex with him. In fact, you probably wouldn’t have talked to him.

Here’s a story from Israel where the man doing the deceived gets charged and convicted of rape. From Tracy Clark-Flory of Salon (Journolista? Probably.):

The details of the case are vague and bizarre: After a chance meeting, in which 30-year-old Sabbar Kashur introduced himself as “Daniel,” apparently as a way of tricking the woman into thinking he was Jewish, the pair stole away to a nearby office building and had sex. He left before she could even get dressed (which, you know, violates common decency but not any actual laws), but after the fact she somehow discovered that he wasn’t Jewish. (Cue the politically incorrect jokes.) In the final ruling, Jerusalem District Court Judge Tzvi Segal wrote: “If she hadn’t thought the accused was a Jewish bachelor interested in a serious romantic relationship, she would not have cooperated.”

So what do you think of this? The Salon writer says that all men lie to get sex. And that this sets a dangerous precedent. Here’s the U.S. law:

U.S. law has expanded to allow for rape by fraud, but interpretations are fairly strict. As a 2007 report in the Northwestern University Law Review notes, “Many jurisdictions prohibit specific categories of [sex by] fraud — identity fraud, spousal impersonation, and fraudulent medical treatment.” Under the category of spousal impersonation, for instance, I once wrote about a Massachusetts man who impersonated his brother in order to have sex with his wife. (The case was dismissed, however, because the state recognizes only rape by force.) Fraudulent medical treatment includes doctors who convince patients that sex — with the medical professional standing before them, of course — is a cure to whatever ails them. Clearly, Jerusalem’s jurists have gone with a much looser definition of rape by fraud.

The obvious solution is for women to be more prudent about their sex partners and getting to know them better, etc. But let’s just exclude that variable.

Where should the line be drawn for rape by fraud?

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