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Patrick H.
Patrick H., Lawyer
Category: Australia Law
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Experience:  Dip Law LPAB - Sydney based lawyer
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Hi, I think that the WA law on rape is penile penetration. An

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I think that the WA law on rape is penile penetration.
An object is just assault.
The rest of the country has rape described as penetration by any object.
Could you please tell me why the difference, if it is different, what the law says today and why the English still call it assault if it it digital rape.
I have a friend who has been raped and the definition is bothering her.
Thank you.
Western Australia, like other Australian Jurisdictions no longer has "Rape" as a specific criminal offence.

Instead WA has Section 325 of the Criminal Code, which is the offence of "Sexual penetration without consent", and Section 326 "Aggravated sexual penetration without consent" and the term sexual penetration is set out in Section 319, to include penetration by any part of the accused's body or any object (with an exception for legitimate medical purposes).

The UK law separates the offences differently:

The way the offences are divided up, or given different names in different jurisdictions is really just a fluke of history. Different names and definitions of offences have resulted from the fact that different governments have each gradually evolved their laws independently, and when doing so have often used arbitrarily chosen names to describe essentially the same things. At law in each jurisdiction these terms have very firm and well defined meanings, however, when used by the public, and unfortunately the media, it is often the case that terminology from one jurisdiction gets misused in other jurisdicitons. For example the term "Rape" is still an offence under English law, but has long since been super-ceded in Australia by statue laws, such as the Western Australian laws linked to above.

Unfortunately, whilst lawyers are generally on top of such changes in both offence names and definitions, the public and media often muddle these up or use them loosely in ways that do not strictly accord with their legal definitions. Ultimately though, it doesn't matter what the crime is called, only that such criminal conduct falls within the definition of an appropriately serious offence.

As far as your friend goes, the laws that are relevant to her experience will be governed by the jurisdiction in which the offence occurred.

I can only suggest your friend seek appropriate counselling, and no doubt there are plenty of such services in the UK if she chooses to do so.

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Thank you and good luck.


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