One giant step backwards for women’s rights.
An Oklahoma court has let a 17 year-old Tulsa man walk free after he forced an intoxicated 16 year-old girl to perform oral sex on him, due to the fact that unconsciousness and intoxication are not mentioned in the state’s forcible sodomy law, and as such, are not considered a crime.
The 17 year-old had been in a park drinking with the girl and his friends when it became apparent she was incapacitated by alcohol. Witnesses recall she had to be carried into the young man’s car before she was driven to her grandmother’s house. From there, it was decided she should be taken to hospital.
In hospital, staff recorded the 16 year-old had a blood alcohol reading of 0.34 and found the young man’s DNA on the back of her leg and around her mouth. Although the man claimed the act had been performed with consent, the teenage girl told authorities she did not remember anything since her time in the park. The young man was then charged with forcible sodomy.
However all charges against the 17 year-old have now been overruled as the Oklahoma court has concluded prosecutors can not apply the law to victims who are intoxicated, agreeing that, “forcible sodomy cannot occur where a victim is so intoxicated as to be completely unconscious at the time of the sexual act of oral copulation.”
The barbaric ruling has baffled prosecutors around the world, including Tulsa county district attorney, Benjamin Fu, who lead the case. Fu told The Guardian that he was “absolutely gobsmacked” by the ruling and that it put the victim at fault, rather than the perpetrator.
“The plain meaning of forcible oral sodomy, of using force, includes taking advantage of a victim who was too intoxicated to consent,” said Fu.
“I don’t believe that anybody, until that day, believed that the state of the law on this kind of conduct was ambiguous, much less legal. And I don’t think the law was a loophole until the court decided it was,” he continued.
However legal experts have spoken out defending the court’s ruling. Dean of CUNY School of Law, Michelle Anderson, who has written extensively about rape law, has described the outcome “appropriate”, though highlighted the law is “archaic” and has called on the state’s legislators to update Oklahoma’s laws.
“This is a call for the legislature to change the statute, which is entirely out of step with what other states have done in this area and what Oklahoma should do… It creates a huge loophole for sexual abuse and that makes no sense.”
However you look at this case, there’s one thing which seems to be very clear: a young man has walked away with the belief there’s nothing wrong with putting your genitals into the mouth of an unconscious young woman. The Oklahoma court has only served to reinforce a dangerous victim-blaming culture that teaches young men it’s okay to sexually assault women. A mentality that’s disturbing to believe is rooted as deeply as the judicial system in 2016.
Comment: What are your thoughts on the Oklahoma court’s ruling?