Feminist Legal Studies

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 47-73

First online:

Jurisdictions of Sexual Assault: Reforming the Texts and Testimony of Rape in Australia

  • Peter D. RushAffiliated withInternational Criminal Justice Programme, Institute for International Law and the Humanities, Melbourne Law School, Faculty of Law, University of Melbourne Email author 

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The reform of rape law remains a vexed enterprise. The wager of this article is that the plural traditions and technologies of criminal law can provide the resources for a radical rethinking of rape law. Parts 1 and 2 return to the historical and structural forms of rape law reform in Australia. These forms of reform illustrate a variety of criminal jurisdictions, and a transformation in the way in which rape law reform is conducted now. Against this transformation, Part 3 takes up the technology of classification in rape law in order to generate a radical legal definition of rape—one which responds to the pain and suffering of the survivor of rape, at the same time as it holds the legal institution before the law. This has important implications, it is suggested, not only for domestic legal systems but also the jurisprudence of rape in international criminal law.


Rape law reform Jurisdiction Classification Definition Australia International criminal law