North Carolina - The State Where No Doesn't Really Mean No.

For some, this may just be another case of sexual misconduct in the US. But when I read about the North Carolinian law that essentially states that women cannot change their consent to sex once intercourse has begun, I was utterly, entirely gobsmacked. 

I go to university in North Carolina, so reading about this legal loophole struck a personal chord with me. 

I just couldn't get my head around it. My closest associations with the state are with that of my forward thinking open minded peers, not a misogynistic legal system so outdated that you think it would be from a 16th century archive on legislation. 

The law has come to light after 19 year old Aaliyah Palmer reported to law enforcement in Fayetteville, North Carolina, that she had been raped. She explained how things had begun OK, but when the man began tearing out her hair she demanded he stop. He didn't. 

And the person who committed the act? Not arrested. Nor charged. Palmer speculates that this is because it is difficult to prove that he penetrated her multiple times after her repeatedly saying no. 

Fayetteville Police have now confirmed these findings - that there is insufficient evidence to for this to substantiate as a rape case. 

And as if this treatment wasn't horrific enough for Palmer to endure, it has now emerged that four men filmed the attack on their phones and posted it online. Palmer says she now faces the reality that some of her own classmates may have seen the video, especially as it was circulated on Snapchat over a short period. 

This trauma has lead to Palmer becoming depressed and anxious, meaning she cannot attend class out of fear of what others might think or say on the incident, so much so that she withdrew from her university this Spring. 

The aggravating thing is that such an outdated law is having such serious implications in legal cases right now. Besides Palmer, another woman, Amy Guy, who was raped by her husband in a violent attack, could not have him prosecuted for his crimes because of the law. Legal situations like these show that change in societal discourse on rape, sex and consent mean nothing without a legal backbone to enforce them. We can comment on and discuss things like this until the cows come home, but until there are serious legislative repercussions for this kind of behaviour, no changes will be made.  

So there it is, North Carolina; the only state where no doesn't really mean no. 

But, victims like Palmer are being fought for by Senator Jeff Jackson, who recently introduced a bill that would allow consent for vaginal intercourse to be withdrawn at any time during the act. The bill has been stuck in committee waiting to be voted on since 2015, yet Jackson applauds those raising awareness on the issue who have made it a main issue in national coverage. 

Palmer's encounter shows that still there are so many lessons to be learnt about how legislation and societal discourse on rape, sex and consent must mirror one another to ensure that no case like hers can be undermined again. 

Here at EHV, we applaud and support Palmer for being brave enough to  name herself publicly to raise awareness of this issue. We stand with her, and Senator Jackson, as they fight for a change that should have happened years ago. 

Let us know your thoughts on this in comments below, or submit your own story in our dashboard.

Written by Phoebe O'Hara