‘Police disbelieve women on rape’

17Aug06

A poll has found one third of people think a woman is at least partly to blame for being raped if she is flirtatious, and a quarter if she is drunk or wears revealing clothing.*

This is not a new article as it was published on the BBC website in November of last year. Lets face it, nothing much is going to have changed in eight months – is it? So I thought it was well worthy of another airing, just to remind ourselves just what we are up against.

One woman, raped at the age of 20, told the BBC News website she never reported it for fear it would not be taken seriously. She agrees that it was a shocking stastic but that she was not surprised; as public perception of rape is affected, by the way rape is treated by the justice system.

“I didn’t hold much hope that it would be taken seriously”*

She felt it would have been too much of an ordeal to go through, as she did not have any faith that the Police would take her seriously, coupled with the low conviction rate she did not hold up much hope that her rape would be given the gravity of seriousness that it deserved.

She knew her attacker, she had had a drink with him, he was a friend, she had been drinking and she had kissed him. That was as far as she had wanted it to go. She was raped by him, but did not report it to the Police.

“It wasn’t what I would have thought rape was. I know now that most people are raped by someone they know. It’s not the ‘stranger danger’ that people think happens, bushes and knives. I didn’t know that – it’s not something that was ever covered at any stage of my life, there’s no education at school. I didn’t know the statistics.”*

The sexism, and yes the misogyny in the justice system needs to be challenged and turned on its patriarchal head. Women seem to be of little value, their safety and integrity appears to be an after thought. As long as the police and the judiciary are getting away with not taking rape seriously, things are not going to improve. Women continue to be questioned regarding their previous sexual history, although this was addressed and disallowed a couple of years ago. Many Judges don’t even realise that questioning of the victims sexual past is not permissible. They need to be held accountable, for the way they treat women when they report rape, and do their job properly, gather evidence and make sure the resources are going into that area.

Rape is not taken seriously, approximately 6% of rape cases that get to court are convicted of their crime. When you combine this with the huge percentage of women who don’t even report the crime, it points to a rape culture. We live in a culture, a so-called civilised society that minimises the horrific act of rape, disbelieves the woman if she reports it, and if it does get to court, brings her past previous sexual history as something to be held in ‘evidence’ – evidence for what? That she may have ‘deserved’ it?

Virgin – Whore – or Saint… anyone?

*Source: “Police disbelieve women on rape” BBC News, 22 Nov 2006 

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