Government confirms that ‘rape accused’ anonymity proposals will be dropped
Plans to grant anonymity to men accused of rape in England and Wales have been abandoned by the coalition government, as reported in The Independent.
The anonymity proposal was included in the coalition agreement for government although it was not in the manifesto of either party.
The proposal faced “immediate and harsh criticism” from various women’s groups who warned that victims of rape would be prevented from coming forward in an atmosphere of increased assumption that women “lie” about rape.
The Justice Minister, Crispin Blunt announced the government climbdown yesterday saying that there was insufficient evidence to support the proposal.
He said that: “The coalition Government made it clear from the outset that it would proceed with defendant anonymity in rape cases only if the evidence justifying it was clear and sound.”
The proposals have angered many women – for lending greater credence to the belief that the rape crisis in the UK is the number of false allegations; and drawing attention away from the low conviction rates for rape cases brought to court, which is currently 6 per cent.
The number of cases brought to court are also felt to be a low proportion of rapes in total, many of which go unreported.
In a corresponding opinion piece, The Independent calls this reversal a “welcome move” and comments that: “A country in which juries let men off the hook for rape on the grounds that the victim appeared to “ask for it” has little right to call itself civilised.”
The article points out that there is no hard evidence for the “one in ten” figures “bandied about” for rates of false accusation, and police believe that the number of false claims are small.
The Independent calls for the government to turn its attention to the low conviction rate, pointing out the link between the low conviction rate and the attitude that many accusations of rape are false meaning that “victims will continue to feel there is little point in trying to seek justice.”