Feminist Groups Call For Ban On Rough Sex Defense In The United Kingdom

Women’s Rights groups are moving in the United Kingdom to ban the use of the rough sex defense in criminal cases. Recently, the defense was used in the murder trial of Grace Millane, 22, who was killed on a backpacking trip to New Zealand. The banning of a defense raises troubling questions as criminal defendants, who may face life imprisonment or death in some countries, being denied the ability to present their own account to jurors — an account that they maintain is true.

Notably, the defense was not successful in the New Zealand case and is often rejected by jurors. The first time many people heard of rough sex practices, let alone the defense, was the case of Robert Emmet Chambers Jr., who became known as the “Preppy Killer” after the strangulation death of Jennifer Levin, 18, in Central Park. He claimed it was an accident during rough sex and later was allowed to plead to a manslaughter charge.

Women’s rights groups insist that the defense normalized violence against women. The group We Can’t Consent to This claims that men avoided charges of murder in more than one in three of 60 killings of women and girls by relying on the defense.

Accepting this statistic, however, does not alter the concerns from a criminal justice standpoint. The defense may be successful because there was a basis for using it. Rough sex or erotic asphyxiation (EA) appears a common practice between consenting partners. It can also be clearly used as a way of shielding assault and violence against women. However, banning the defense would deny defendants the right to present such facts to the jury, which (if history is a measure) is likely to be skeptical of the defense.

There is also a concern that, once we start to ban certain defenses, the appetite for silencing defendants can become insatiable. We can manipulate trials by preventing defendants from claiming certain defenses. The jury would never know that the defendant told police that this was an accident of rough sex. Without such a defense, the scene looks like one of cold blooded murder.

The author of a legislative measure to ban the defense, Parliamentarian Harriet Harman is quoted as saying “Men are now, literally, getting away with murder by using the ‘rough sex’ defense.” But what if it is true? Clearly it is possible that such a death can occur by accident. Various sites note that injury and death can occur easily if EA is done incorrectly. Moreover, EA is used by both genders.

I share the concern that rough sex defenses can be used to hide violence against women, but that is a view that can be presented to a jury. Banning the defense over a widely used practice would leave many defendants as effectively without a defense in a murder case.

46 thoughts on “Feminist Groups Call For Ban On Rough Sex Defense In The United Kingdom”

  1. The prosecutor has to prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, so wouldn’t it just drop down the involuntary manslaughter with no intent to kill…? Especially once you prove your “defense.”. But I guess that’s the whole point you’re making, that therein lies the problem….if you cant claim “EA” it just looks like someone intentionally killed another with a rope….wirh malice forethought/whatever the MPC statue of your state says…hold on, CA has NOT adopted the MPC, 😆, of course, they didn’t, wouldn’t expect anything else…wow….

  2. Prof. Turley,

    I would take any stats provided by feminists (e.g., only 2% of rape accusers lie; women routinely suffer wage discrimination; men routinely abuse women on Super Sunday) with a grain of salt. I have yet to see any that did not turn out to be hoaxes.

  3. Wait. So on the one hand, Fifty Shades of Gray has made BDSM mainstream. On the other hand, they want to ban BDSM as a defense for any injuries.

    I don’t think any criminal defense should be “banned.” How would that be just? You can either prove your case, or you can’t, regardless of the defense.

    1. Anaïs Nin wrote “Delta of Venus” for a dollar a page just to earn some $$. Nonetheless, it is far superior to “Fifty Shades of Grey”.

      Goes to show what poor taste people have …

      1. I have never read Fifty Shades, but I did hear the writing was quite poor. Personally, my favorite authors are Patrick O’Brian and Diana Gabaldon.

        No genre is an excuse for bad writing, even if it’s a technical manual.

        1. OMG, I just realized how that last sentence could be construed. I meant a technical manual for a coffee maker or lab equipment. Not another kind of technical manual!

  4. Leave the defense but sharpen evidence requirements. I.e. if those silks malfunctioned they better be on hand and tested rigorously; ditto the japanese eggplant that supposedly wrecked hubbies butt.

    Anything less increases the defense being used as a deadly rape vehicle for the wealthy. Preppy Killer case in point.

  5. The role of the jury should be as limited as possible. People who work in the system know what is best for society.

  6. The group We Can’t Consent to This claims that men avoided charges of murder in more than one in three of 60 killings of women and girls by relying on the defense.

    IOW, it’s been successfully invoked 20x over 30-odd [?] years in a country wherein `~170 women a year die by homicide. Note the professor’s formulation: it allowed murder charges to be bucked down to manslaughter charges. The smart money says very few men went without penalty.

    There may have been individual cases mishandled by courts. What’s the point of a systematic complaint?

    Part of the reason, one suspects, is that the employees of advocacy groups need to raise money and ‘campaigns’ against minor social ills are a away to do it. Another is that such groups attract professional complainers, people one supposes cannot feel engaged with their world unless they are indignant.

    One might suspect, though, that something sinister is afoot, that these cases are being used as a wedge for more nefarious aims. The conduct of ‘judicial hearing officers’ on campus and ‘women’s advocacy’ types suggest that ‘women’s rights’ are now conceptualized to include a right to revenge making use of criminal and civil penalties. Seedy women expect x, y, and z out of the transactional sex they engage in, and when they don’t get it, their seller’s remorse turns to rage. Like Mattress Girl, these women are ugly inside and out.

    1. Have you caught some of the video of Heather MacDonald’s Q & A session at Colgate University? Colgate’s a selective institution. Their admissions officers have recruited masses of kids who have no time for (or even rough-and-ready comprehension of) the schema of Anglo-American jurisprudence.


      Their faculty and administration have flat nothing to say in any public forum about travesties like this.

      1. It is really troubling how common it is for people to resist hearing facts that do not support their ideas. They should be open to hearing them, and then take the time to investigate and really think about it.

        Why would anyone be afraid or furious about facts? The truth is what it is. I have found some people to get quite aggressive when presented with facts they don’t like.

  7. Why just remove it as a defense? Why not ban rough sex outright? No more S&M, no more bondage, no more rape fantasy play. I think that would make for a more mentally healthy population. The heck with what consenting adults want to do.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. And how would you enforce this? We still do for the moment at least, have some freedoms.

        1. You need to get out more Squeek, maybe find a nice man, dump the 3 cats and make babies?


          Seems to work best in reproducing the human race, ya know?

          just saying


          Hi!!! I am a Girl Reporter on the Internet. Plus I am a INTP. I have a Major in Human Kinetics, and a Minor in English. I have 3 cats, and a poor little orphan Bluejay named Squawky. I have a couple of blogs, and I try to split up my interests between them. And I even have my very own Think Tank!!! I write poetry, and plus I am trying to learn how to play guitar. I think that is all???

          1. No, but I had a friend who did, and still does for a few of her old clients. I need to update my bio. I have more than 3 cats now, and Squawky lives at my old residence and thereabouts.

            And no babies (or husbands) for me. I like being single and not having to put up with some idiot.

            Squeeky Fromm
            Girl Reporter

        2. Inviting the gubmint into our homes to throw us in jail for this and that strikes me as a rotten idea. We should limit criminal defenses (all of them) as little as possible and allow juries and courts to do that they are there to do – determine the guilt or lack thereof of criminal defendants. But a duty on the defense to prove consent to rough sex by the slain party might be a good idea.

    2. I have some antique brothel inspector badges that I picked up at a farm auction many years ago. How could I not bid on them? That’s an Americana you don’t see every day.

      Perhaps OSHA will create a new division of inspectors, complete with badges, to monitor certain activities.

  8. Consensual rough sex is a thing and it should be a defense. All defenses should be available to the defendant.

      1. So if you happen to be in the room of a heroin addict that ends up dying of overdose you must be guilty too because you obviously are the one that injected them.

      2. Yes, it is! Just like you should be able to sodomize somebody without wearing condom, even though you have HIV. What is most important is that everybody gets to have their org*sm in their own special way! And even Mayor Pete agrees that we should not criminalize people who do not inform their “partner” that they have HIV, etc.

        Squeeky Fromm
        Girl Reporter

      3. David, you may not know this but generally erotic asphyxiation is applied to the person who wishes to enhance their orgasm.

        There is also a thing called auto erotic asphyxiation, which is responsible for a certain amount of accidental deaths each year. The rumor is that’s what David Carridine was up to when he died.

        Good luck banning sex things people; it never works. Feminists would ban men doing anything at all if they could. Amazons! except they’re not physically strong, at least not the ones infesting academia.

        1. “ David, you may not know this but…”

          David spends his sad existence trolling this forum, having heckuva conversations with himself and otherwise telling everyone to go to St Elizabeth (?)

          He is nuts

          Then there is you Kurtz who authors a fair percentage of comments on here

          1. Yes, perhaps I am totally nutz and so I have to type out quasi anonymous radical screeds on the internet to relieve me of the pressure of boredom which my walter mitty life lays upon my soul. just another fat old white guy nobody out here in flyover by day, fire breathing commentator by night, eating nails and schiessing thunder from my fingertips

            btw don’t miss steve bannon’s pandemic update

            1. well, i guess the liberals have decided it’s time to panic over covid-19

              remember you have been hearing updates from me for three weeks now


              The Harvard epidemiology professor Marc Lipsitch is exacting in his diction, even for an epidemiologist. Twice in our conversation he started to say something, then paused and said, “Actually, let me start again.” So it’s striking when one of the points he wanted to get exactly right was this: “I think the likely outcome is that it will ultimately not be containable.”

              Containment is the first step in responding to any outbreak. In the case of COVID-19, the possibility (however implausible) of preventing a pandemic seemed to play out in a matter of days. Starting in January, China began cordoning off progressively larger areas, radiating outward from Wuhan City and eventually encapsulating some 100 million people. People were barred from leaving home, and lectured by drones if they were caught outside. Nonetheless, the virus has now been found in 24 countries.

              Despite the apparent ineffectiveness of such measures—relative to their inordinate social and economic cost, at least—the crackdown continues to escalate. Under political pressure to “stop” the virus, last Thursday the Chinese government announced that officials in the Hubei province would be going door to door, testing people for fevers and looking for signs of illness, then sending all potential cases to quarantine camps. But even with the ideal containment, the virus’s spread may have been inevitable. Testing people who are already extremely sick is an imperfect strategy if people can spread the virus without even feeling bad enough to stay home from work.

              Lipsitch predicts that, within the coming year, some 40 to 70 percent of people around the world will be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. But, he clarifies emphatically, this does not mean that all will have severe illnesses. “It’s likely that many will have mild disease, or may be asymptomatic,”


              yes it’s serious now folks you can take a break from tiddlywinks and figure out how you’re going to weather the coming storm

              1. Just, for the sake of the poor infected folks of metro Wuhan city, let’s hope President Xi never saw the movie “Outbreak”, where a rogue US Army general with the biodefense labs at Ft. Detrick decided you could only cure a fast-spreadying virus with a Daisy Cutter.

              2. According to Johns Hopkins’ Coronavirus COVID-19 “dashboard” map of confirmed cases worldwide, COVID-19 has killed 3.36% of the people who’ve caught it. (2,708 confirmed deaths in 80,415 confirmed cases).

                That figure’s up from 2.7% a week or two ago.


                That number holds up well outside China, according to Forbes’ Kenneth Rapoza, who reports that of 229 cases reported in Italy, seven (3%) have died.

                So, if the Chinese estimates of death rate are low, they’re not off by much.


                According to contagionlive.com “The percentage of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza also increased from 6.0% to 6.9%,”


                Coronavirus is estimated, then, to kill (compared to CDC’s figure) about half the number of people who get it worldwide as influenza is estimated to have killed in the US.

                If the government had just let us compare apples to apples instead of blinding people with science, there’d be a lot less paranoia about how deadly coronavirus really is.
                It kills, so far, about half as many people as influenza is killing in the US.

                1. loupgarous,

                  You might not be aware, but this web log only permits two hyperlinks per comment. I edited your comment so that it would post. If you would like for the readership to review more than two links, this may be accomplished by using multiple comments of two links or less.

                  1. Sorry, Darren, I’d forgotten that. You’ve informed me of this before, I now remember. Thanks for editing my post to retain its original sense.

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