Mississippi and Idaho only States without Laws Forbidding Unwanted Sexual Touching

Thursday, August 27, 2015
(photo: Getty Images)

Groping, fondling and other forms of unwanted sexual touching is illegal in almost every state in the country. Almost.


Two states, Idaho and Mississippi, don’t have criminal laws that clearly address these types of sexual assault, according to Reveal News.


Mississippi, in fact, still defines rape as the intent to “forcibly ravish any female of previous chaste character.” Reveal’s Bernice Yeung reports that Mississippi prosecutors rely on a newer part of the state’s penal code that addresses sexual battery and statutory rape.


“It is disheartening sometimes,” Lt. Mark Little of the Southaven Police Department, told Reveal. “We know it’s more serious than someone striking someone when they grab someone on the rear end or the breast, but with the ways our laws are stated, especially on the adult side, it goes in as an assault through misdemeanor court.”


Unwanted sexual contact is a common occurrence for many women—nearly 30% will experience it sometime during their lives, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s why legal experts say it is important for states to have laws on their books that address this problem.


These laws send “a powerful message that a butt grab and a boob grab are not a funny thing,” Erin Murphy, a New York University law professor, told Reveal. “Society can condemn this behavior through criminal law and say, ‘You pay a penalty for this.’ It may be a small penalty, but you pay a penalty.”


California’s law provides a range of punishment for fondling, from paying a fine to serving four years in prison.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

In 2 States, Sexual Assault Laws Lag Far Behind the Mainstream (by Bernice Yeung, Reveal)

Is Southern Illinois a Haven for Sexual Assaulters? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Will Billing Rape Victims Thousands of Dollars for Medical Exams in Louisiana Finally Come to an End? (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Steve Straehley, AllGov)


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