WASHINGTON — Among the bills the Maryland General Assembly has sent to the governor’s desk is a measure that would fundamentally change how the law defines rape.
Supporters of the measure expect Gov. Larry Hogan to sign the bill, which makes clear that rape victims don’t have to physically fight an attacker in order for prosecutors to bring charges.
The bill is called the “No Means No” law and is co-sponsored by Del. Kathleen Dumais, a Democrat representing Maryland’s 15th District.
Under current law, advocates said, there have been horrific cases of rape in which prosecutors declined to pursue charges against the attacker.
“Officers had said, ‘Ma’am, did you kick? Did you hit? Did you fight back?’ When the victim said no … they said, ‘OK, it’s not rape under Maryland law,'” said Lisae Jordan, executive director of the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault.
When signed into law by Hogan, however, the bill will make a clear change.
“You never have to physically resist the assailant. This is a huge change in Maryland law. It means that ‘no’ means ‘no,’” Jordan said.
On another score, advocates for sexual assault victims are disappointed that the General Assembly has failed to advance a bill that would make it easier for rape victims to end the parental rights of their attacker when a child is conceived through rape.
“Right now in Maryland, the rapist has the same parental rights as any other father,” Jordan said.
It’s the ninth-straight year that lawmakers did not pass the bill to end parental rights of rapists.