Legal Eagle : What if it barely goes in?

November 06, 2017

Penetration. Sexual penetration. Most adults know what this is based on personal experiences yet, because of the different experiences, sexual penetration is likely to have different meaning to each individual. The 'uptowners' and 'ghettoites' have different views about it. Young girls and ladies whisper about it. Boys and men sometimes brag about it. One thing is for sure, even if the man is in doubt, the woman knows when it happens and which one is good or bad. It may also be a hot topic on social media between friends.

However, not many understand what the law requires us to prove penetration in sexual intercourse, because it is so different from what people gossip about. For instance, John, who just turned 65 a few weeks ago, almost got into trouble when his wife accused him of marital rape. In his defence, he explained, while nursing a cup of coffee one morning, that he made an attempt one night, and according to him, he slightly penetrated her, but he did not "cum" in her.

Similarly, James, a 21-year-old construction worker, spent a few days in the slammer after he was accused of raping a 45-year-old woman with whom he was having drinks at a party.




Charges were dropped when the complainant indicated to the judge that she has no further interest in pursuing the case. The accused could not understand why what he described as "barely entered" could get him into big trouble with the law.

In another scenario, Pansy, a 23-year- old civil servant, who promptly reported her sexual assault allegedly done by Junior, had second thoughts after being put under some pressure by community leaders. In her further statement to the police, she said "him never put it in good and den it drop out". This was not good enough to absolve the accused. The matter went for trial, but the jury found that the sexual intercourse was consensual and as a result, the accused was acquitted.

It is important to note that the Sexual Offences Act does not define 'penetration', but it defines sexual intercourse as the penetration of the vagina of one person by the penis of another person.

To prove many of the charges under the Act, it is imperative that penetration be proved.

The Act also criminalises "digital penetration" [hand job], that is to say, the use of the hands in circumstances where consent is not given. In all of these offences, the prosecution must prove penetration to the requisite standard required in law.

In light of the above, the question therefore is what is sexual penetration in law. An acceptable definition of sexual penetration is sexual intercourse or any other intrusion, however slight, by the penis or any part of the body or object, into the genital or anal cavity, but emission of semen is not necessary.

Simply put, even a slight entry for the shortest possible time would be sufficient to satisfy the requirement in law to prove penetration.

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