Eastern Cape rape case sparks conversation around consent

The Eastern Cape High Court recently overturned the conviction of Loyiso Coko who was found guilty of raping his girlfriend who had expressed not wanting to have sex as she wanted to remain a virgin.

Picture: 123rf.com

CAPE TOWN - There have been calls for further education in the judiciary and prosecution system around how to manage cases such as an Eastern Cape rape case.

This is the view of Lisa Vetten, a gender activist and researcher at the University of Johannesburg.

The Eastern Cape High Court recently overturned the conviction of Loyiso Coko who was found guilty of raping his girlfriend who had expressed not wanting to have sex as she wanted to remain a virgin.

In 2018 the court found Coko guilty of raping his girlfriend. He was arrested after the woman opened a case.

Coko was acquitted on appeal, with the High Court setting aside his seven-year prison sentence.

Over recent days there's been much talk around consent.

The couple agreed that they could have oral sex and the woman warned her partner against any penetration because she was still a virgin.

Researcher at the University of Johannesburg Lisa Vetten said one worrying factor is that the Judge seems to think that oral sex is just foreplay and that the woman agreed to everything else afterwards.

"The law understands that there is a difference between oral sex and vaginal penetrative sex. And the law quite clearly considers oral sex to be sex, it doesn't treat it as foreplay which he does, and I think it sets a very typical masculine heterosexual perspective.

The law quite clearly says oral sex is also sex, so oral sex without consent is also considered rape. That is exactly his problem he thinks one act legitimises all other acts that follow. If you have oral sex with somebody does that mean that they are now entitled to anal sex with you and they don't need to ask you?".

Vetten further explained what the law said about consent.

"Our law is quite clear that consent should be voluntarily and freely given. Our law distinguishes between situations where you can't consent verses where you submit".

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