Virtually Rape: Should Cyber Sexual Offensiveness Constitute Rape?

22 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2019

Date Written: October 22, 2019


Rape is the severest sexual offense, involving one of the most feared and reviled acts one person can inflict on another. But what makes something rape? Initially, only penial-vagina forceful penetration. Much later, other forceful penial penetrations have been added, oral and anal; and later also the forceful insertion of inanimate objects. The requirement of using force lost its exclusiveness and much of its normative power, paving the wave to other kinds of rape: sex by non-forceful coercion, sex by sedation, sex with incompetent people, sex by fraud, and other forms of problematic sex. The normative debate about each form is far from over, and in a manner of speaking, rape is limitless idea. Where will the rape offense go next?

Cyberspace, apparently. Israeli Supreme Court has recently affirmed convictions of rape performed by distant words. The perpetrators conversed with children, teenager and adult women online, using fraud and blackmail to manipulate them into masturbation and self-penetration. This groundbreaking judicial is the inspiration to a normative analysis, revolving around Western notions of rape. Should such ill-intended communications constitute as rape?

The article normatively scrutinizes the virtual rape thesis. It analytically deconstructs the normative notion of rape into three facets, and examines each separately: the offensive scenario's physics; the manner in which sexual autonomy is attacked, the settings to the sexual interaction; and finally, the matter of proper criminal labeling. It concludes that while sexual autonomy is indeed under attack in cyberspace, the framework of rape is unsuitable to handle this form of offensiveness.

Keywords: Rape, Cyberspace, Sexual Autonomy, Law and Technology, Supreme Court, Fraud, Statutory, coercive

Suggested Citation

Harduf, Asaf, Virtually Rape: Should Cyber Sexual Offensiveness Constitute Rape? (October 22, 2019). Available at SSRN:

Asaf Harduf (Contact Author)

Zefat Academic College ( email )

11 Jerusalem St.
Zefat, 1320611

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