Between shocking new rape prosecution statistics, delays to a vital anti-domestic violence bill and the knighting of Geoffrey Boycott, it's been a bad week for vulnerable womenby Sian Norris / September 13, 2019 / Leave a comment
Going off the headlines this week, you’d assume that rape was practically legal in the UK. Of the approximately 58,000 rapes recorded by the in England and Wales every year, only 1,758 are charged by the Crown Prosecution Service.
From there, the numbers drop even further: only a third of referred cases resulted in charges being brought against an alleged rapist. This is a drop from 62 per cent of referred cases being charged back in 2013/4.
Dig a little deeper into the numbers, and the results become even more shocking. While charges are low for men accused of rape in all demographics, it’s even lower if the accused is young. Less than a third of men aged 18-24 who are prosecuted for rape are convicted. Sarah Green of EVAW claims this could be because “juries may be more inclined to make excuses for young adult male defendants because of ideas about what crosses the line and what a real rapist is.”
The impact on a victim’s future—the potential PTSD, the risks of sexually transmitted diseases and cervical cancer, the shame—don’t seem to prey on the jurors’ minds so much.
The appalling statistics show how the justice system is routinely letting down women. Men who choose to sexually assault and rape women can take comfort in the knowledge that they are likely to get away with it. They can take even more comfort in the fact that the CPS has been urged to “take a more risk-averse approach” to rape cases.
Women reading these numbers, meanwhile, and remembering cases where victims are asked about their sexual history, choice of underwear, and drinking habits, will quietly choose to stop reporting. And who could blame them?
It’s not just the crime statistics teaching men that they can get away with gender-based violence. Government has been busy sending that message all week, too.
Thanks to the prorogation of Parliament, Theresa May’s flagship Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill has been dropped. Labour’s Jess Phillips responded that “yet again, domestic abuse victims are the collateral damage of party politicking.”
Published in January 2019, the Bill sought to finally define domestic abuse in law. It extended the criminalising of coercive control to Northern Ireland, set up a Domestic Abuse…