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Cabinet approves new bill to strengthen law on consent in rape cases

DUBLIN: The Cabinet has approved a new Bill which would make a decisive breakthrough in rape cases. Minister Helen McEntee introduced new provisions to support women in sexual assault cases in the Sexual Offences and Human Trafficking Bill.

The new bill removes the current provision that a man is not guilty of rape if he believed that he had the consent of a woman. The accused’s defence that he believed she was consenting must now be objectively reasonable.

The new law requires juries to consider the steps the accused took to determine whether the woman was consenting, as well as the accused’s decision-making capacity at that time. The accused will have to convince that this decision was not based on intoxication.

The new provisions were included in the bill based on recommendations made by an expert working group headed by Prof. Tom O’Malley.

Women’s Aid Chief Executive Sarah Benson and CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Noeline Blackwell welcomed the approval of the new bill.

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