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Exposing the false rape claim myth

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gavelFalse rape allegations really aren’t that common.

Belief that ‘most claims of rape are false’ is a myth that organisations like Rape Crisis and End Violence Against Women have long been campaigning to dispel.

But false rape allegations really aren’t that common.

Given the malestream media fixation with the issue, you could be forgiven for believing that false rape allegations are a widespread problem and our courts are ridden with prosecutions against those that have made them.

However, a report released by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) last week has found that there are a mere two people prosecuted for this crime each month.

Two people a month.

Compare this with the 332 prosecutions that are secured against rapists each month and the pervasiveness, or lack thereof, of the problem is put in some sort of perspective.

In his foreword to the report, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer said: “Victims of rape and domestic violence must not be deterred from reporting the abuse they have suffered.

“In recent years we have worked hard to dispel the damaging myths and stereotypes that are associated with these cases.

“One such misplaced belief is that false allegations of rape and domestic violence are rife.

“This report presents a more accurate picture.”

The report, which examined a 17-month period over 2011 and 2012, revealed that while there were 5,651 prosecutions for rape during that time, there were only 35 prosecutions for making a false allegation of rape.

Of those few false allegations that were made, approximately half involved young people aged 21 and under, while others involved people with mental health issues.

Indeed, scrutiny of the case studies of those included in the report reveals them to be vulnerable individuals coping with complex social and emotional issues, such as alcoholism, homelessness, and coming to grips with their sexuality.

Don’t get me wrong, this vulnerability is not an excuse for their actions.

But let’s be honest, this representation of someone who falsely accuses someone else of rape stands in stark contrast to the image of the conniving fantasists that the media would have us believe are making false accusations – and a mockery of a heinous crimes.

Another important discovery revealed in this report is that victims are often targeted by other rapists and abusers once they have been subjected to an assault – perhaps because they are more vulnerable.

This means that individuals who claim to have been a victim of more than one rape or other violence should not be discounted or viewed with suspicion.

In fact the opposite is true.

Based on data released by the Ministry of Justice in January, it is estimated that there were approximately 97,000 serious sexual assaults or rapes in the UK in the previous 12 months.

Police records, however, show that only 16,000 rapes were reported for that same period.

So if the number of actual rapes far outnumbers the number of people who are convicted for rape, surely it makes sense that accusations of false rape must far outnumber those who are convicted for making a false allegation?

As feminist blogger glosswatch rightly points out, this rationale is flawed.

Not only is a false rape allegation, exactly because it is an allegation, investigated by the authorities in a way that an unreported rape is not.

But, as glosswatch highlights, “we see broad cultural trends of rape apologism – from UniLAD to George Galloway to rape jokes on T-shirts – reaching out to the minds of investigators and juries, we’ve never yet seen an equivalent level of sympathy and amusement regarding false rape claims.”

Indeed, so entrenched is the culture of rape apologism that even media coverage of the recent CPS report by one apparently impartial news provider was unbelievably disingenuous.

Rather than highlighting the small number of false rape allegations recorded by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), an article in the BBC’s Newsbeat only encouraged victim-blaming paranoia.

Newsbeat lead with a piece entitled ‘False rape allegations ‘devastating”.

It is just this kind of mythologising of false rape claims that Keir Starmer is trying to wipe out.

He told the Guardian: “Because people recognise the devastating effect of false allegations and because they perceive there to be more false allegations than this report would suggest there are, arguably they adopt a cautious approach.

“If [that] leads to a more rigorous test being applied when people report rape or domestic violence, then that can lead to injustice for victims.”

And it is not just in the reporting of a rape, but in every stage of the legal process that victims of rape seem to face a ‘more rigorous test’.

It has emerged that police at a specialist unit for handling sexual assaults put pressure on victims to drop claims in order to aid clean up rates.

And Frances Andrade, who killed herself after giving evidence against her childhood abuser, was labelled a “fantasist” who was “largely living in a fantasy life” by his defence lawyers and left her feeling as though she was the one on trial.

Sadly, I suspect that Frances Andrade’s experience is familiar to many of those who have pursued convictions against their accusers and I fear that for as long as a culture of rape apologism is tolerated, it will continue to be so.

So we won’t tolerate it.

  1. vicki wharton says:

    The pressure NOT to speak out about sexist violence is huge and the penalties for speaking out about are myriad. I was threatened by a policeman with arrest, having my child taken away and my family turned on me in support of my ex husband when a neighbour reported hearing an attack on me. My family had only met my ex husband a handful of times and yet they made me into the villain of the piece, as did police and social services. I don’t say this to put other women off reporting, but more as a cautious warning that outing sexist violence is not an easy call by any means and it can be a very very isolating and lonely process.

    • vicki wharton says:

      PS And rape myths aren’t really myths at all – they’re lies. The facts, as far as can be ascertained, are there for anyone to access, where as the ‘all women are liars about male violence’ is mainly promoted by male media. Journalists within any media have a professional obligation to check their ‘facts’ – and so these journalists are actively publishing an idea they know is not supported by the facts – making their output propoganda or lies with a political agenda.

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