By NINA FUNNELL
Earlier today in the ACT Supreme Court, a 51-year-old man pleaded guilty to one count of sexual intercourse without consent. His plea came after having sex with a sex-worker in the knowledge that she was not giving full and informed consent at the time.
Why? Because she only gave that consent on the basis that she would receive a fee of $800. A fee that the man, Akis Livas, never has any intention of paying.
In 2010, Livas arranged the appointment with the sex-worker and agreed to pay her $800 in exchange for sex. When he arrived he handed her an envelope which supposedly contained the money.
When the woman went to check the contents of the envelope, Livas, who was a previous client of the woman, asked her not open it, saying that it would destroy the fantasy of trust between them.
After engaging in sex, the woman opened the envelope to discover that Livas had deliberately and maliciously deceived her. The envelope contained nothing but a folded brown paper bag and a white card with a flower on it.
It’s a landmark case that will no doubt test the community’s understanding and attitudes towards both consent laws and the rights of sex-workers.
Under ACT law, sex without consent is a crime, and consent is not considered valid if a person’s agreement to sex was obtained through a “fraudulent misrepresentation” of facts on which the consent was based. (Consent is also considered invalid if agreement was obtained through extortion, threats of violence, the unlawful detention of a person, or the abuse of a person’s power or authority over the victim, amongst other things.)
Crucially, this law does not mean that if a person big-notes themselves or lies about an aspect of their life in the hopes of getting someone into bed, that the sex is automatically deemed non-consensual.
Rather, what it means is that if a person explicitly states that they are only agreeing to a sexual act on a very specific pre-condition, and if you fake that pre-condition in order to gain sexual access to the person (while knowing that they wouldn’t otherwise be happy to consent), then according to the law, you “shall be deemed to know that the other person does not consent”.
Another classic example where this law might apply, would be in cases where a woman was deceived into agreeing to a gynaecological examination on the basis that she had been told there was a valid medical reason for it, when in actual fact, there was no medical reason, and the offender fabricated the excuse in order to secure her agreement, so that he might sexually gratify himself.
Or in this case in Sydney, two men were found guilty of raping multiple women after they convinced the victims that sexual penetration during “prayer sessions” was necessary to lift a black magic curse that would cause sickness and death in their families. The women agreed at the time, but the false pretence and the exploitation of trust and authority rendered it rape.