What is rape?

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 states that a person commits an offence if he intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person with his penis. The other person (victim) does not consent to the penetration and the person responsible does not reasonably believe that the victim consents.

Whether a belief is ’reasonable’ is to be determined having regard to all the circumstances, including any steps the person responsible has taken to ascertain whether the other person consents.

In circumstances where penetration is initially consented to but consent is later withdrawn, the person responsible will have committed rape. The victim can be male or female, of any age, marital status, gender or religion.


A person consents if they agree by choice and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice.