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Overextending the definition of sexual assault is also harmful (Opinion)

We are going to need some new words. As allegations of sexual misconduct continue to flood our mass media, the term “sexual misconduct” won’t suffice. Neither will “sexual assault” or “harassment.”

“Misconduct” is a handy catchall when we are not sure which actions under discussion are criminal and which are merely disgusting, but the legal terms of assault and harassment are surprisingly and unhelpfully broad. Full Opinion Piece

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  1. ab

    Generally the author is correct about incorrectly using terms interchangeably and too broadly in recent times as more people come forward claiming inappropriate conduct from someone in their past. More specifically laws tend to be as inclusive as possible where defining offenses are concerned, however laws are not usually regarded as ambiguous and maintaining an understandable framework for individuals working within the legal is vital to preventing the system’s collapse or implosion. Yet the meaning and understanding of an act legally versus how it is perceived socially causes a devastating disconnect that rarely if ever results in future positive outcomes. Unfortunately one key factor regularly gets overlooked by the majority looking in from the outside and unmentioned by those on the inside; each case in every locale is different. The exact same activity can be prosecuted using vastly different legal language depending on who is involved with the case or not prosecuted at all. Just because something equals sexual harassment in one courtroom doesn’t mean it equals sexual harassment in the next courtroom at the same time or even in the same courtroom earlier or later in a day.

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