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30 June 2020

Victory for Campaigners and Grazia Readers as Government Bans The ‘Rough Sex’ Defence

In a landmark move, the Government has today published a new clause to the Domestic Abuse Bill which – if the law is passed – will end the so-called ‘rough sex’ defence. The clause ‘Consent to serious harm for sexual gratification not a defence’ would mean attackers and murderers can no longer claim their victim consented to violence during sex that then resulted in harm.

The news follows a long campaign led by Harriet Harman MP, Mark Garnier MP and campaign group We Can’t Consent To This, who found the defence was being increasingly used in UK courts, following the deaths of Natalie Connolly and Grace Millane. Grazia joined the campaign in December 2019, calling on readers to sign a petition – which now has over 67,000 signatures – and write to their MPs about the law change. Plus, in December last year in the run-up to the election, Grazia interviewed Boris Johnson, asking him for a commitment to tackle the problem.

Commenting on the law change, Hattie Brett, Editor, Grazia said: “Just under seven months ago, Boris Johnson told readers of Grazia magazine that he agreed the so-called ‘rough sex’ defence was unacceptable and that he would make sure the law was clear. We’re thrilled to see that today the government has taken steps which will save lives, ensure justice and mean no person or family has to sit in court and hear an attacker say their victim ‘asked for it’. Well done to Harriet Harman, Mark Garnier and We Can’t Consent To This, who have worked tirelessly to bring this law to fruition – and all the Grazia readers who have joined the fight by signing our petition and writing to their MPs.’

Harriet Harman MP added: “Grazia played a key role in winning this vital change in the law to protect women from male sexual violence. It was Grazia’s challenge to Boris Johnson in last year’s election campaign that got him to promise to end the rough sex defence. Thanks to all at Grazia for sticking with this campaign and to readers who signed and shared this demand.”

Fiona Mackenzie, Founder, We Can’t Consent To This, said: “We’re happy to call this a victory. This is such a clear statement by the government. We’re so proud that Grazia and its readers have pushed this with us, and everyone who has gotten involved should feel rightfully pleased at helping make this change.”


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For further information, please contact:

Susie Asbury – Communications Director, Magazines, Bauer Media – 07754 758322

Odelia Yu – Senior Commercial Communications Executive, Bauer Media – 07718124791


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Bauer Media UK reaches over 25 million UK consumers through a portfolio of world-class, multi-platform media and entertainment brands including heat, KISS, Grazia, Empire, Magic, Absolute Radio and the Hits Radio Network. These brands offer commercial partners access to highly engaged audiences, with creative solutions underpinned by insight and instinct. Bauer Media UK is part of the Bauer Media Group, one of the world’s largest privately owned media businesses with media assets all over the globe.

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