We all accept that when someone is attacked and sexually assaulted by a stranger while out on the street, it is called rape, and that it is wrong and a crime, bu, often when a man rapes his partner or spouse it is not seen as a crime, or even described as rape.
Yet, funnily enough, this kind makes up around 54% of all cases!
The media highlights preconceptions that women ‘cry rape’! That women get drunk, have sex and that they accuse men of this crime due to later regret or out of some fueled revenge to get back at them. The media and society does everything to reinforce this myth, so much that it creates hysteria and paranoia around it. Of course, some false accusations have been made and happen and women who do should be held accountable without a shadow of a doubt, however, the real truth is that these false claims account for only 2-8% and people can lie about any crime therefore this means that 92-98% of rape allegations are true yet innocent survivors are suffering even with evidence to be taken seriously or to obtain justice as the police and legal system, courts and judges still follow these myths and in addition the other detrimental myth that partner rape is not ‘real rape’.
How can a crime be any less and how can we say partners of rapists are ‘unrapeable’ or justify the crime due to a relationship? Rape is abuse, abuse is violence and it can happen in any context.
In addition if all and most women ‘cry rape’ it does not correspond with the fact that survivors of partner or spousal rape are less likely than other survivors of violence to report their assaults to formal service providers, friends, or family members. Reporting date rape or rape within marriage may become even more complicated because of a woman’s relationship to her assailant. These are not characteristics of false accusations.
To eventually find the courage to report should be admirable not punishable and the seeking of justice should be a human right not labelled as a wrong. Why should anyone accept violence?
The woman gets blamed if she was drinking, what she was wearing, sexual history, mental illness……..
Certainly the most obvious manifestation of the “blame the survivor” pattern is rape cases, where women are often accused of being provocative, teasing, or just plain “asking for it.”
“Headlines typically read ‘Woman Gets Raped’ instead of “Man Rapes Woman,” which only serves to put the focus of the event on the survivor, instead of the aggressor.”
Why do so many of us prefer to dismiss rape survivors and defend rapists? Force yourself to face these difficult questions. Only by challenging our preconceptions and educating ourselves about the issues can we achieve justice for rape survivors. It is due to these preconceptions, myths and stereotypes that genuine survivors are having no justice, feel they have to suffer in silence and get mistreated by police, courts and jury.
Lets inspect the laws: Rape in English law
Rape is defined by section 1 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003:
A = Offender and B = Victim
(1) A person (A) commits an offence if—
(a) They intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person (B) with his penis,
(b) B does not consent to the penetration, and
(c) A does not reasonably believe that B consents.
What happens when a survivor reports is this: If they prove points (a) and (b) they are then faced with proving (c) and only the offender can do this, fair enough yet meeting (a) and (b) points already state that consent was absent so proving (c) after ticking (a) and (b) should result in prosecution not a get away free card for offender.
The police tell the survivor that even if rape/sexual assault as occured they must prove that the offender knew that what he was doing is wrong, even in the most self-explanatory cases. Do police ask a victim of robbery to prove that the robber knew what he was doing was wrong? a murder victim to prove that her murderer knew that what they where doing was wrong or for a stab victim to prove that the offender had ‘accidently’ stabbed them or that the offender was unaware that a knife is lethal? NO! so why are partner rape victims responsable?
Why are partner rape survivors not treated like other victims of other crimes? Why does the responsability and blame rest upon them?
In the UK we currently have a conviction rate of 5.6%, the legal system is failing many innocent survivors of this crime. Another example of this can be seen by how the police fail to take a good statement, they do this by asking inappropriate questions about a woman’s sexual history and missing out important details, not looking at evidence that can be used against offender but twisting and distorting the survivors account. They disbelieve and plant the seed of doubt as soon as the word partner is mentioned, again because they see a relationship as unlimited consent.
Consent does not mean abuse; consent should be freely given without threats, intimidation, and later punishment. Consent should always be sort and requires communication. Sex should not be taken by force and a relationship should not mean someone loses their rights to their bodies and should have it degraded, humiliated and abused. This is not right! The law states that even if the survivor shows that she was not actually consenting yet offender reasonably believed she was, he has not committed an offence. The police love this even if one describes something abusive, violent or severe.
What they fail to give survivors or dismiss as a law that is actually a law and so they themselves are breaking in order to dismiss genuine survivors is that the question as to whether offenders belief was reasonable has to be answered by looking at all the circumstances of the case, including what he did to make sure the survivor was consenting.
It is not relevant what relationship, if any, he has or had with survivor nor is it relevant if the act complained of occurred within a relationship.
The survivor does not need to have physical evidence that shows the offence took place or evidence of injuries to show that they did not consent. (Rights of women, 2001, p.18)
Therefore, police lie when they do not take this on board or dismiss it as irrelevant if the survivor confronts them with the responsability of the offender to have asked for their consent instead of taking on demand or by force and recklessly being indifferent to whether the survivor was consenting or not. Therefore, it doesn’t take away the fact that this statement is true and not the survivors false perception which they tell the survivor or would have them believe.
A “man who engages in sexual activity with a woman without attempting to find out whether she consents to sexual activity or not has in fact committed the same crime as a man who knowingly does so with a woman without her consent”. (Rights of women, 2001, p.12)
Again, this law is written, survivors don’t always know the laws and the police prey on ignorance therefore failing genuine survivors and clearly supporting the offender.
It is the police’s responsibility to investigate crimes and gather relevant evidence that may later be used in court.
The police have no right by law to ask questions about previous relationships, survivor’s sex life or whether they have been raped or sexually assaulted in the past. Questions like these related to survivors sexual history are not relevant to the investigation and any answers that a survivor gives to such questions are unlikely to be allowed to be used as evidence in any subsequent trial. (Rights of women, 2001, p.36)
Again, police are breaking these rules; they manipulate, twist, distort and further add confusion to survivors when the survivor is already in too much of an emotional state to think clearly. They hear the words ‘partner rape’ and therefore give survivor no credibility.
Words like partner, spouse etc… should not be applied in front of the word rape as clearly they are causing biased assumptions rape is rape nothing else is relevant.
In addition, the survivor may find that they remember things after being interviewed that they may not have remembered at the time and they may wish to clarify something they said. The law again states that they can then make an additional statement to cover the new information (Rights of women, 2001, p.36).
Yet, they get called ‘unreliable’, attacked as future proof of why they are not credible and again instead of finding support and cooperation from the police who are there to support and protect they are accused and placed on trial. Least to say their wish of adding further details is not granted again another violation of law by police. Another example, of how they fail so many survivors.
Experts and professionals are therefore dismissing relevant laws and continue to follow and encourage myths. This regrettably results in millions of survivors who still think they have no choice but to suffer in silence. Some survivors believe that reporting may assist them emotionally as part of the process of recovery unfortunately for many the negative treatment results in an added violation and traumatic ordeal lived once again.
Sex should be about communication and pleasure, rape or sexual assault has none of these elements.
Sexual assaults and rapes are planned; they are not the results of unpredictable bursts of passion. The plan often is subtle and intricate, involving covert threats and manipulative actions. For example, earlier in the evening, the sexual offender might have demonstrated his strength in a playful wrestling match, or he may have shown her his gun collection or happened to mention violent acts he had committed in the past. The purpose is to plant the seeds of fear that will undermine her defences when he attacks her.
Even with evidence, survivors are not getting any justice, this needs to STOP! Also laws need to accommodate the fact that a man can get raped by a woman and same-sex partners can also be raped. Remember, this has nothing to do with gender or sex, anyone can commit the crime and it’s about power and control.
The laws should offer protection for both parties not just attack one. This is sexism not equality, this is unjust not just.
The police should treat all survivors who report as genuine not instantly label them, false accusation should be punished and genuine victims should be given justice.
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