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Response: “Having Sex” with someone in custody isn’t “having sex,” it’s rape, so let’s actually call it that, Buzzfeed.

Recently Buzzfeed shared an article titled, “New York Just Passed A Bill Banning Cops From Having Sex With People In Custody” about a horrible case where a woman in handcuffs was raped by two officers who were detaining her. Buzzfeed calls this “having sex.” But it’s not. It’s rape.

There are 35 states where the laws allow for a loophole where officers who rape someone in custody are not actually charged with rape if they claim the rape was “consensual”. That’s right: if they claim the RAPE is consensual. This is a law we must fight to change (specific information on how to do this at the bottom of this post) because it is appalling not to mention inherently untrue.

Why is it completely untrue?

Because no one in custody can possibly give consent to any kind of sexual act with someone who has power over them, such as a guard or police officer. The inherent power dynamic makes giving consent impossible. All cases where a police officer “has sex” with someone in custody is rape by definition. So when Buzzfeed writes “having sex” instead of “rape” they are implying consent or the ability to give consent.

Websites and writers shy away from this word in their titles. Why? The word “rape” is not a dirty word just like “murder” or “robbery” are not dirty words. It’s a crime, a legal act, the correct, most precise, and simplest way to describe this case. If we avoid using words like rape we are giving more power to the people who commit this unacceptable crime.

Words matter.

When you hear the words “having sex” you probably think of two individuals mutually deciding to engage in, consent to, and (hopefully) both enjoy a sexual act. What you almost certainly do not think of is rape, coercion, force, pressure, or refusal. But that is actually what Buzzfeed is writing about: forced, non-consensual sex. Because again, in case you skimmed above, it is impossible for anyone in custody to give consent to someone in direct power and control over them. And what’s the correct term for forced, non-consensual sex? Rape.

A police officer “having sex” with someone custody is not “having sex” it is rape.

Why say in two words what you can more correctly and clearly say in one?

How can you make a difference and end this law in your state?

These are states where there is no specific law that explicitly says that any sexual contact between a detainee and an officer as non-consensual(which again, it always is).

If you think it obvious that someone who has the power to arrest you or detain you and likely has a weapon should have to be told specifically that they cannot rape you, unfortunately this loophole could allow someone to argue otherwise.

This is the loophole being used by the New York officers who raped a woman in their custody as their defense. The legal loophole that potentially allows police officers in the states pictured above to rape detainees, but not be charged with rape.Because it doesn’t specifically say they can’t rape a detainee. That’s how the law works sometimes. But that doesn’t make it right. And the good news is laws can change.

If this is something you think should change follow this link, put in your address, select your officials, and write your message.

If you are more of the copy & paste type, like I am, here’s suggested text:

Dear Representative / Senator / Governor [insert last name here],

As your constituent, I recently became aware that our state does not include language in our laws that specifically says that any sexual contact between a detainee and officer as non-consensual. After recent events in New York where two officers raped a girl while they were detaining her and then plead not-guilty because the law does not specifically say a person in custody cannot possibly give consent due to the inherent power officers have over all detainees could be the loophole they need to go free. I know you care about prosecuting all rapists, even those who are charged with upholding the law. I encourage you to work to ensure legislation exists that can rewrite our laws so that no such loophole exists. Thank you very much for your time and for reading my email.

Want to write a letter on your own, here are some great tips.

Once you’ve taken action let me know in the comments, so I can give you a shout out! Also, if you wrote something different than my suggested text, what did you say? Share it! We can all learn from it!