Rape Sentencing


Part of my job as a Counselling Psychologist and psychotherapist is to provide sex education to groups of teenagers. This morning, during a discussion of yesterday’s Irish Examiner story looking at the effects of teen exposure to pornography, I was asked by a 16 year old male student to explain the different kinds of rape.

I wasn’t sure what he meant : did he mean oral rape? digital rape? But no, he meant “rape rape”, intercourse without consent. Were there different kinds? Is one worse than another? I said no, that rape is rape. Whoever the perpetrator is, whether a stranger, a relative, a boyfriend , the mechanics and the effects are largely the same. So why such variation in the sentencing? he asked. He had, naturally, assumed that different sentencing meant that some rapes are not serious (shortened sentences with suspensions and ‘good behaviour’ leniencies) , and some are serious , and get longer custodial sentences.

Who can blame him and his classmates for making this assumption?

I explained that the difference appears to me to depend on the judge that hears the case.
I was met with looks of disbelief from the entire group. How can that be fair? How is this justice? Why aren’t there standardised sentences? And how does this effect the victims?
Really good questions, from the mouths of babes.

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