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Rereading Identity Deception in the UK Sexual Offences Act 2003

Incorporating Personal Traits and Attributes

  • Book
  • © 2023


  • Addresses an important question in a novel fashion
  • Presents the main argument that deception as to any trait in a sexual context may count as impersonation
  • Draws on a wide array of philosophical work and themes

Part of the book series: SpringerBriefs in Law (BRIEFSLAW)

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About this book

Does the Sexual Offences Act (SOA) 2003 provide for consent to be vitiated in all the circumstances we think it should? Can, and should, section 76(2)(b) (the impersonation provision) be read to include a different class of identity deceptions? How should the concept of personal identity be understood in this context?

While the concept has had some airing in the courts, and the distinction between identity and attributes of the person softened, the law on rape still fails to give proper effect to identity deception and leaves many questions unanswered. This book offers a novel take on the problem of sexual deception. Through meticulous interrogation of the meaning and normative implications of the concept of personal identity, it challenges the law’s restrictive approach and argues that qualitative identity is, like numerical identity, normatively important.

This book provides a comprehensive and nuanced analysis of the philosophical, theoretical, and psychological experimental literature on personal identity, marshalling relevant insights to support a broader reading of the impersonation provision. The argumentative thrust of the book is an extended equivalence thesis, which links numerical with qualitative identity. In this task, it engages in capacious exploration of different kinds of impersonation, at each juncture leading the reader to a more permissive understanding. Guided by the principle of consistency, the central thesis is that certain deceptions about personal traits should be unlawful based on existing prohibitions with which there is equivalence. A central contribution of the book is the articulation of a theoretical framework to support a richer understanding of identity, giving due attention to its qualitative aspects. This new framework is applied at stage three of the equivalence thesis to explain the relationship between individual traits and identity change.

By implication, a potentially wide scope of consent-vitiating deceptions is endorsed. This presents a challenge to those who would defend more stringent limits. The book thus invites further discussion on the implications of this approach for the law on rape and indicates areas for further research and attention.


Table of contents (10 chapters)

  1. Law’s Problem with Identity

  2. Towards a New Approach

  3. Equivalence Thesis

Authors and Affiliations

  • Magdalen College, Oxford, UK

    Rakiya Farah

About the author

Rakiya Farah is a DPhil candidate in the Faculty of Law at the University of Oxford, researching alternatives to consent in the definition of rape, and the potential for an expanded sexual offences law in the UK. Alongside a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Law from the University of Cambridge, she holds a Bachelor of Civil Law (BCL) from Oxford. Rakiya’s main research interests lie in sexual offences and aspects of family law. In addition to her work on sexual offences, she has written a chapter in an edited book, addressing justice and forgiveness in response to human conflict.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Rereading Identity Deception in the UK Sexual Offences Act 2003

  • Book Subtitle: Incorporating Personal Traits and Attributes

  • Authors: Rakiya Farah

  • Series Title: SpringerBriefs in Law

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Springer Cham

  • eBook Packages: Law and Criminology, Law and Criminology (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2023

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-031-44474-6Published: 11 November 2023

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-031-44475-3Published: 10 November 2023

  • Series ISSN: 2192-855X

  • Series E-ISSN: 2192-8568

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: X, 130

  • Topics: Theories of Law, Philosophy of Law, Legal History, Philosophy of Law

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