Over the years the WTS has vacillated on its stance regarding the distinction between rape and mutual consent to fornication.
In years past, the WTS has stated that " the primary distinction between rape and consent was whether a woman screamed for help." (Awake!, 4/22/ 73, p. 17).
The WTS's latest published stance, however, states that while the act of screaming establishes innocence of the victim, screaming in itself is not the sole criteria for determining the victim's innocence before God. If one is incapable of screaming, it does not matter, since Jehovah can read a person's motives:
***w03 2/1 p. 31 Questions From Readers ***
Even in the sad case where a woman is overpowered and raped, her struggle and screaming for help is not in vain. On the contrary, it establishes that she did all she possibly could to resist her attacker. (Deuteronomy 22:26) Despite going through this ordeal, she can still have an undefiled conscience, self-respect, and the assurance that she is clean in God’s eyes. The horrifying experience might leave her with emotional wounds, but knowing that she did all she could to resist the attack will greatly contribute to her gradual healing.
In understanding the application of Deuteronomy 22:23-27, we must realize that this brief account does not cover all possible situations. For example, it does not comment on the situation where the attacked woman cannot scream because she is mute, unconscious, or paralyzed with fear or is forcibly prevented from screaming by a hand or tape over her mouth. However, since Jehovah is able to weigh all factors, including motives, he deals with understanding and justice in such cases, for "all his ways are justice." (Deuteronomy 32:4) He is aware of what actually took place and of the efforts the victim put forth to fight off her attacker. Therefore, a victim who was unable to scream but otherwise did all she could under the circumstances can leave matters in Jehovah’s hands.—Psalm 55:22; 1 Peter 5:7.
But this still begs clarification on the larger question of motive. Must the victim be willing to resist to the point of death for assurance of being "clean in God's eyes"? One could easily take the unqualified statement: "she did all she possibly could to resist her attacker" to mean that God does indeed expect this.
The WTS actually has taken this position explicitly in the past. Note the following "Questions from Readers" from the 1/15/64 Watchtower:
***w64 1/15 pp. 63-64 Questions from Readers ***
HOWEVER, in 1986 the Awake! issued this statement:•According to the Bible at Deuteronomy 22:23-27, an Israelite engaged girl threatened with rape was required to scream. What is the position of a Christian woman today if faced with a similar situation? Is she to scream even if an attacker threatens her life with a weapon?—M. U., United States.According to God’s law an Israelite girl was under obligation to scream: "In case there happened to be a virgin girl engaged to a man, and a man actually found her in the city and lay down with her, you must also bring them both out to the gate of that city and pelt them with stones, and they must die, the girl for the reason that she did not scream in the city, and the man for the reason that he humiliated the wife of his fellow man." If, however, the attack took place in a field and the woman screamed and thus tried to get away from the attacker, she was not to be stoned, since she was overpowered and there was no one to rescue her.—Deut. 22:23-27.But suppose the man had a weapon and threatened to kill the girl if she failed to lie down with him? These scriptures do not weaken the argument or alter the situation by citing any circumstance that would justify her in not screaming. It plainly says she should scream; hence, oppose the attack regardless of the circumstances. If she was overpowered and perhaps knocked unconscious and violated before help came in answer to her screams, she could not be held accountable. The thought of the scriptures apparently is that the girl’s screaming, by attracting neighborhood attention, would frighten off her assailant and would save her, even though he threatened her life for not quietly complying with his wishes and passionate desires.Such Scriptural precedents are applicable to Christians, who are under command, "Flee from fornication." (1 Cor. 6:18) Thus if a Christian woman does not cry out and does not put forth every effort to flee, she would be viewed as consenting to the violation. The Christian woman who wants to keep clean and obey God’s commandments, then, if faced with this situation today, needs to be courageous and to act on the suggestion made by the Scriptures and scream. Actually this counsel is for her welfare; for, if she should submit to the man’s passionate wishes, she would not only be consenting to fornication or adultery, but be plagued by the shame. There would be shame, not only from the repulsiveness of the experience, but of having been coerced into breaking God’s law by having sex connections with one other than a legal marriage mate. Not only that, but she might become an unwed mother, or she may contract a terrible disease from her morally debased attacker.It is true that a woman faces the possibility her assailant will carry out his threat; but, then, what guarantee does she have that such a desperate criminal would not kill her after satisfying his passion? In fact, such a one, perhaps already hunted by the law, may be more likely to kill her after the attack, since she would then have had a greater opportunity to identify him and would therefore be in a better position to supply a description of him to the authorities. In such case, following the Scriptural counsel of screaming could well save one’s life by attracting attention and driving the attacker away at the outset, instead of causing him to feel that he must get rid of his victim for fear of being identified later.In most instances it is doubtless a matter of calling the assailant’s bluff, since the girl’s screams could result in his arrest for attempted rape. Also, if he carried out his threat and committed murder, he would face the likelihood of apprehension and conviction for this even more serious offense. Of course, there is the possibility that instead of fleeing immediately, the attacker may strike his victim or inflict a superficial wound to silence the screams, yet would not the endurance of such physical punishment be insignificant compared to the disgrace and shame of submitting to an immoral man?A Christian woman is entitled to fight for her virginity or marital fidelity to the death. Just how best she can defend herself against anyone who wants to defile her depends upon her courage and quick wits. At least, as has been mentioned, she should first try to frighten off the would-be rapist by screaming and making as loud and noisy a spectacle of the matter as she possibly can, in order to summon any convenient aid. This being unavailing, then she has a right to defend her virtue by whatever means she can... [emphasis mine]
***g86 9/22 p. 28 From Our Readers ***
The Bible does support the thought that a woman attacked by a rapist should scream and resist. True, the woman has to respond according to her assessment of the danger to her life...
This statement clearly communicates that the life of the victim takes precedence over the need to resist.
In 1993, the Awake! also implied the same position in a round-about way:
***g93 3/8 p. 5 The Reality of Rape ***
Myth: A rape victim bears part of the blame unless she actively resists . Fact: Rape by definition takes place when force or the threat of force is used to gain sexual penetration, of any kind whatsoever, against a person’s will. It is the rapist’s use of force against an unwilling victim that makes him a rapist. Thus, a rape victim is not guilty of fornication. [emphasis mine]
If one can be innocent by not resisting under the threat of force (i.e., threat of futher harm, injury, or death), then it would follow that resistance to the point of death is NOT expected.
The point here is that the WTS's policy on this is very muddled indeed. Should a person resist rape to the death, according to the WTS? It depends on which article you read! If the answer is NO, can the WTS go on risking responsibility for unnecessary deaths by not satisfactorily clarifying the issue?