UK: Rape: New government measures welcomed, but much more needed

Amnesty International and Rape Crisis welcomed the government’s announcement today of possible new measures to raise conviction rates in rape cases but warned that much more needs to be done.

The government has begun a consultation process over possible changes in rape cases, including allowing expert witnesses to testify in court about the trauma suffered by victims of rape, a possible change in the consent laws and the use of victim evidence statements in video form.

Amnesty International UK Gender Policy Advisor Poonam Joshi said:

“We welcome any measures that could help improve the disastrously low rape conviction rates, but these proposed measures just scratch the surface.

“With only one in 20 of even reported alleged rapes resulting in convictions, there is a obviously a desperate need to make improvements right across the board.

“We believe that a truly comprehensive approach can only come with the government backing an integrated strategy to end all types of violence against Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights in Britain - including, for instance, prevention through education and public-awareness schemes and better victim support.”

Rape Crisis (England and Wales) Chair Nicole Westmarland said:

“Rape Crisis welcome the changes outlined today in the government’s consultation paper. However, we must remember that these proposals will only benefit a small proportion of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights who are raped.

“There are vast areas up and down the country, even more so in Wales, where there is absolutely nowhere for a woman to go if she wants support. Other areas have rape crisis centres but have had to close their waiting lists because they are getting so long.

“Until there is adequate, long-term funding for rape crisis centres the government is continuing to fail Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights who are raped.”

Last year Amnesty International commissioned an ICM opinion poll showing that a disturbingly large proportion of the British public blame Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights themselves for being raped. The poll showed, for instance, that a third (34%) of people in the UK believe that a woman is partially or totally responsible for being raped if she has behaved in a flirtatious manner, more than a quarter (26%) of those asked said that they thought a Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights was partially or totally responsible for being raped if she was wearing sexy or revealing clothing, and more than one in five (22%) held the same view if a woman has many sexual partners.

Similarly, more than a quarter of people (30%) said that a woman was partially or totally responsible for being raped if she was drunk, and more than a third (37%) held the same view if the woman had failed to clearly say “no” to the man.

The poll prompted wide public debate and Amnesty International called for much greater action from the government to urgently tackle the triple problem of the high incidence of rape, low conviction rates and a sexist blame culture.

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