The traditional legal definition of rape is the performance of sexual intercourse by a man other than her husband with a woman against her will, by force or fraud. This definition has been adapted in the statutes of some jurisdictions; in Canada the crime of rape has been abolished as a separate offense and merged into a wider general category of sexual assault. Most jurisdictions do not treat as rape an act of sexual intercourse by a husband with his wife without her consent, unless the marriage has effectively been terminated by a legally recognized separation. Although many rapes involve the application or threat of violence, it is possible to commit rape by fraud--either by persuading the victim that what is to take place is not sexual intercourse (by representing it as medical treatment, for instance) or by impersonating some other person, such as the victim's husband. Under the provisions of most criminal codes, rape requires penetration of the female organ by the male organ (but does not require ejaculation); other forms of sexual abuse (such as oral penetration or anal penetration) are dealt with, if at all, under different provisions. In the United States, however, the crime of rape may also include forcible sodomy, and victims of rape may be women or men. In many rape trials the issue is whether the victim consented to the sexual intercourse, and this may lead to distressing cross-examination, in some cases about the woman's previous sexual behaviour, whether with the accused or with other persons. In many jurisdictions cross-examination of the complainant on such matters is now restricted, and the embarrassment of the complainant is further mitigated by provisions restricting publication of the woman's identity. Proof is made more difficult by the common need to prove not only that the victim did not consent but also that the accused knew this--or at least was aware of that possibility.
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