Editor's note: This editorial discusses sensitive topics such as sexual assault.
North Carolina lawmakers have finally closed a sexual assault loophole that has existed for more than four decades.
On Oct. 31, the right to revoke consent was approved unanimously by the General Assembly as part of Senate Bill 199; a bill intended to “strengthen and modernize” sexual assault laws in North Carolina.
Prior to the passage of SB 199, North Carolina was the only state where consent could not be legally withdrawn once a sexual act had begun. A decision by the North Carolina State Supreme Court established the precedent for this law in 1979.
The bill also closed another loophole based on a 2008 court decision. The ruling said that sexual assault laws didn’t apply to those who were mentally incapacitated as a result of their own actions — such as voluntarily choosing to consume drugs or alcohol.
It comes as no surprise that laws like this one have continued to exist well into the 21st century, especially when we look at who is in charge of making them.
A man accused by multiple women of sexual assault holds a seat on the highest court in the land. At least 25 different women have accused our president of sexual misconduct (and we hardly ever talk about it). And, in February, the Associated Press found that at least 90 state lawmakers have faced public allegations or repercussions over sexual misconduct claims since 2017.
How can we expect our elected officials to adequately address sexual assault when a number of them are guilty of it themselves?