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Are we living in the grips of a ‘false rape society’?

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Heather Kennedy
WVoN co-editor 

It’s been a busy week for the rape apologists.

First, US nominee senator Todd Akin re-writes the facts of life by telling us: “From what I understand from doctors, that it [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it is a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down.”

Next up, British MP George Galloway (pictured), who explains that Julian Assange (he of Wikileaks fame) and currently facing two charges of sexual molestation, had essentially just been accused of “bad sexual etiquette”.

In his nightly podcast Goodnight with George Galloway, he claimed one of Assange’s accusers had consensual sex with him and then “woke up to him having sex with her again – something which can happen, you know”.

Thanks for that George, we’ll all sleep soundly in our beds tonight.

With so many high profile figures dedicated to redefining the parameters of rape, it might surprise you to learn that we’re actually living in a ‘False Rape Society’.

The grip of this society is so pernicious that men are being driven in their droves to seek refuge in a new website, Register-her.com. Or so the creators of the site would have us believe.

Register-her.com is the latest weapon in the armoury of seasoned men’s rights campaigners Paul Elam and John the Other, in their crusade against the toxic tidal wave of women who cry rape.

The website features profiles of women who they accuse of falsely crying rape. ‘Offender’ is the term used by the site to describe these named and shamed women.

Readers are encouraged to submit photos, names and other information on women they deem ‘offenders’ but must include “corroborating content on third party news or courts web sites.”

So all you actually need to announce to the world that a woman has falsely cried rape is a news story accusing her of it.

Hang on a minute, since when did stories from newspapers become hard evidence of anything? If we accept everything we read in the paper, we accept that “Chocolate can halt dementia” and “Aliens could attack Earth to end global warming”.

And when we’re talking about rape, the problems with media reporting are cavernous. Not least because any woman who loses her case or, for whatever reason, withdraws her statement, is likely to be labelled a false accuser.

My intention isn’t to argue that a woman has never falsely accused a man of rape. My intention is to shatter the assumption that a not-guilty verdict, a dropped case or a withdrawn statement is proof that a woman has falsely cried rape.

In a video called the ‘False Allegation Epidemic’, the case of Grimsby Town football players who were cleared of rape because the accuser was thought to be unreliable is cited as evidence of this ‘false rape society’.

There are many reasons why a witness may be judged to be ‘unreliable’. In this article, a woman tells the story of how her rapist walked free after she was deemed an unreliable witness.

Let’s reflect for a moment on the reality of reporting a rape, a pursuit apparently so attractive to women it remains one of life’s great mysteries that around 80% of rapes go unreported.

First of all, when all you probably want to do is crawl into bed, take a shower or drink yourself into oblivion, you have to trot down the police station to relive, in minute detail to uniformed strangers, the harrowing particulars of your recent sexual attack.

If you can make it past the psychological trauma and the fear that your attacker may seek revenge, you still have the court case to look forward to, where you can expect to be confronted with your attacker and grilled by legal officials on your sexual history or drinking habits. Even then, chances of a guilty verdict remain pitifully low.

I know several women who have been raped or sexually assaulted but for these reasons and more, decided not to go to the police or pursue their cases to trial.

So the idea that there are just millions of women falling over themselves to run this gauntlet, out of spite, regret, or a zany sense of adventure, strikes me as baloney.

But a peek at the writings of Register-her.com founder Paul Elam and we can begin to appreciate the ideology and emotion that drives the website.

In his article ‘The Scourge of Rape. Yeah whatever’ he says:

I want to have a T-shirt made. “I Survived Rape Hysteria,” it will read. If a woman goes to a bar, gets shit faced with a stranger and goes to his hotel room only to have second thoughts that are expressed in the form of mid coitus screaming, or better yet, the next morning, we are loathe to say a word. 

Elam is not a man on a mission to eradicate the deep rooted failings of our justice system. He just thinks women are predisposed to lie about rape, and in the rare case they’re telling the truth, he thinks they should shut up about it.

It’s fairly unlikely that this article or any other is going to spark a miraculous change of heart in the men’s rights lobby, and many of their more outlandish exponents do a better job of discrediting them than I ever could.

So why do websites like Register-her.com matter?

Because the myths that women are predisposed to lie about rape, that rape is blown out of proportion and that victims are to blame form a powerful undercurrent in the psyche of our society.

Just look at Galloway and Atkins; political buffoons perhaps but both convinced that their opinions were acceptable for a public space.

And victims of rape have internalised these opinions. When the twitter hashtag #Ididnotreport was launched it solicited an outpouring of anonymous accounts from people who had been sexually assaulted.

What were their reasons for not reporting their attacks? They dismissed their experiences, felt like a fraud or didn’t think they’d be believed.

Knowing they wouldn’t be believed, they stop believing themselves. Galloway and Atkins would, no doubt, strenuously distance themselves from sites like Register-her.com.

But their lazy, contagious assumptions about rape, bubbling just beneath the surface of polite society, are one and the same.

  1. vicki wharton says:

    I was raped twice, aged 14 and 15, once in a group attack by strangers at a party, once by a colleague at work twice my age. I didn’t report either attack because I knew it would be me that would be on trial and accused of bringing the attacks on myself. Nothing has changed apart from the hatred aimed at women who are raped. And it is thought to be closer to 90% of victims that don’t report to a system that is largely run by men who are thoroughly immersed in the rape culture of our porn led society. There is no justice in this country for victims of gender based violence.

  2. You don’t have your facts straight. As it says clearly on the site, the only evidence of a false accusation that is accepted is a CONVICTION for it in court of law (which is verified via news reports) or a public confession by the accuser that the report was fraudulent. There are no exceptions and never will be. We have rejected dozens of submissions for failing that criteria.

    We are not in the false allegation business.

    Paul Elam, owner avoiceformen.com, register-her.com

    • vicki wharton says:

      What kind of public confession do you accept? And do you check to ensure there is no blackmail or threats of violence of the ‘false accuser’ going on? I accept that some women make false accusations of rape just as some men do rape or pretend the women is lying when they know full well that they have undertaken an act on her such as anal sex which they have not asked her consent to do, they have just done it. I’ve had that happen to me too. I think we are living in society where there is a lot of false information knocking about regarding what women find enjoyable – according to porn women and children like to be raped, like to be hit, like to be insulted and spunked on … how many men do that kind of thing assuming that porn shows a kind of reality, and then lie to cover the fact they made an assumption rather than admit they didn’t ask or check consent on a particular act within sex, particularly one that involves pain and potential bodily damage to the woman?

    • Paul, it’s YOU that doesn’t have their facts straight, if you honestly believe there is a necessity for sites like this. Numerous extensive studies have placed the number of “unfounded” rape allegations at between 3% and 8% (8% is the official FBI figure). HOWEVER, “unfounded” is not the same as “false allegations.” There is no universally established standard for “unfounded” rape allegations. Often, it is completely at the discretion of (usually male) police officers, whether an accusation is classified as such. Some places label a rape charge “unfounded” if the victim did not actively fight off the assailant (which is as absurd as saying a robbery charge is “unfounded” if you didn’t try to fight the person holding you at gunpoint). The estimate for actual false accusations in around 2%. Furthermore, as Vicki noted below, the VAST majority of rape is not reported, with an estimated 10-15% actually being reported and around 5% of those charged actually serving ANY time in prison. Do the math, that means approximately 0.75% of all rapists actually end up paying for their crimes. In 2010, nearly 16 000 rapes were reported in the UK. Which means we can assume there were about ten times that many in total, including unreported rapes, for about 160 000. Of those 160 000 cases, approximately 120 would be false accusations. 120 out of ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY THOUSAND. And you think there is some kind of epidemic of false accusations that needs addressing?! Sites like this are disgusting, spitting in the face of all logic and decency in order to fabricate a need to blame victims. Given that less that 800 of those 160 000 cases of rape will ever result in any kind of criminal charges, maybe, just maybe, you might want to direct your efforts to SUPPORTING victims of rape, who are clearly being ignored by the criminal justice system. There is no epidemic of false rape accusations. There IS very clearly a HUGE issue with rape charges not being taken seriously, even in those RARE CASES WHEN THEY ARE REPORTED. It is a problem that sites like “register-her” (And by the way, how DARE you use language that parallels registry for sex-offenders?) are only making worse. Maybe you should get your facts straight, and actually direct your energies to achieving justice for victims, instead of fabricating and perpetuating this absurd narrative of male victimization by false rape accusation. Shame on you.

  3. Hi Paul, thanks for getting in touch with the clarification. Perhaps I should have been cleared in the article and said ‘the only evidence you need is a newstory claiming she has been convicted of it’. But my point remains that what is reported in the press often can’t be taken as gospel. Also, what’s your response to cases where women have recanted because of pressure/threats from their partners such as this one (who consequently went to jail as well): http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/feb/15/woman-rape-allegation-appeals-conviction

    • Jane Da Vall says:

      This site uses pictures of convicted malicious accusers to promote whacko false claims conspiracy theories. The ‘studies’ posted are hilariously slanted. A five-year-old could do a better job of concealing an agenda.

  4. vicki wharton says:

    The moment I told my family of the attacks against me they blamed me, a fact that most women who admit to being raped well know. The most recent studies about false rape accusations that I know of are the Home Office that say between 3 – 9% of rape reports to police are thought to be false, which works out if we take the top figure to be around 1,386 false reports in 15,400 reported rapes. However, 9 out of 10 rapes are unreported according to the Home Office and victim support groups. That means 154,000 rapes a year. Or 80,000 as the Home Office maths puts it …?! 154,000 – 1386 false reports = 152,614 incidents of rape where the victim is left without justice because of a culture that takes false reports in rape far more seriously if it is the women lying rather than the man lying.

  5. I’m uncomfortable with ‘name and shame’ websites. Especially when, as Heather points out, retracting an accusation does not mean that the crime did not occur. There are many many reasons why people will publicly ‘confess’ to having made a ‘false’ accusation, not least the appauling treatment of rape ‘victims’ by the system and the media.

    However, I’m not big on revenge as a valuable societal factor in general.

  6. Heather Kennedy says:

    Graeme, thank you for your response – incredibly well researched and well argued. Amd Vicki, thanks for sharing your experiences. It’s just a shame Paul hasn’t been back to answer any of the points we’ve put to him…

    • vicki wharton says:

      He’s probably too busy posting on Angry Harry or some such linked hate site. Why would he get back to us when confronted by the fact that he is a holocaust denier … if reality doesn’t fit his prejudice, ignore reality.

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