North Carolina may be the only state where women cannot ask their partner to stop after the sexual intercourse has started.
Beverly Hester was sexually assaulted one May evening in 1977. In the North Carolina Supreme Court’s summary, she testified that one night, while they were hanging out at her friend’s apartment, Donnie Way said he would beat her up if she refused to have sex with him. And when she tried to escape from him, he slapped her in her face.
Moreover, Beverly told the court that Donnie performed anal sex on her and forced her to satisfy him orally. He began to penetrate her even after she told him that she is a virgin and begged him not to. He stopped only when she got severe stomach pain. Later, when she was in the hospital, she confessed to her mother that she was raped.
Donnie’s argument was that Beverly has initially agreed on having sex with him, so the defense asked the court whether consent can be withdrawn. The judge said that it could be withdrawn in cases when the intercourse turned out to be violent and “no longer consensual.” Donnie was convicted of a second-degree rape.
However, the state Supreme Court has disagreed with the court’s decision to accuse Donnie of rape. According to them, if the penetration happened with the woman consenting, then the accused can’t be found guilty of rape, but they can be guilty of their subsequent actions.
Consequently, North Carolina women for the past 38 years have been unable to revoke consent after the intercourse begins. Such is the case of the 19-year-old girl, Aaliyah Palmer, who agreed to have sex with a guy during a party, but she changed her mind when the sex turned violent. “It’s really stupid. If I tell you no and you kept going – that’s rape,” she says.
On March 30, the Democrat Jeff Jackson filed a bill to change this horrible law, reading: “a person may withdraw consent to engage in vaginal intercourse in the middle of the intercourse, even if the actual penetration is accomplished with a consent and even if there is only one act of vaginal intercourse.”
He says that North Carolina is the only state where ‘no’ doesn’t mean ‘no.’ It is the only state where a woman can tell a man to stop penetrating her and he would be under no legal obligation to stop if she agreed initially. Even if the sex is violent, the woman has no right to say to the man to stop.
This law implies that women don’t have autonomy over their body. “Aside from perpetrators not being held accountable, when women cannot revoke consent, then we are telling them violence can be perpetrated against them if they consented to begin with and then had a change of heart,” says Angelica Wind, the executive director of Our Voice.
Plus, the law also implies that what happened is not a rape. Basically, women who have been raped are told that what they have gone through wasn’t a rape, so they won’t try to seek help or start with their healing process.