Rape is a sexual assault characterized by penetration into a vagina, anus, or mouth with a penis without the consent of the person. The causes of rape were studied extensively by Lalumière and Lalumière (2005) based on human and non-human behavior. The researchers concluded that rapists are usually not deprived of access to sexual contact (Lalumière & Lalumière, 2005). Thus, the primary reason for committing rape is not a sexual desire that cannot be exercised. Instead, rapists usually seek short-term frequent sexual relationships (Lalumière & Lalumière, 2005). Rapists devalue women, which makes them very likely to commit rape, especially when perceived consequences are low (Lalumière & Lalumière, 2005). The tendency to commit rape is considered deviant and anti-social (Lalumière & Lalumière, 2005).
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There are several issues in the law relevant to the adjudication of sexual assault. One of them is the introduction of rape shield laws. These laws limit the ability to introduce evidence or cross-examine rape complainants, which was introduced in the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (“Factsheet,” n.d.). These laws also prohibit the publication of the rape victim (“Factsheet,” n.d.). While these laws aim to protect the complainant from harassment and stigma, they often limit the ability of the defendant to prove his innocence (Soshnick, 1987). Moreover, rape shield laws are often free for interpretation as the wording is often obscure (Soshnick, 1987). Thus, it can be said that even though the legal reform associated with the introduction of rape shield laws work, their effectiveness is limited by inconsistent implementation across states and openness to interpretation.
Factsheet: The Violence Against Women Act. (n.d.). Web.
Lalumière, M. L., & Lalumiere, M. L. (2005). The causes of rape: Understanding individual differences in male propensity for sexual aggression. American Psychological Association.
Soshnick, A. (1987). The Rape Shield Paradox: Complainant Protection Amidst Oscillating Trends of State Judicial Interpretation. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 78(3), 644-667.