Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Take Back the Night

"When a woman's crying like that? She isn't having any fun."

- Thelma & Louise

Lately, I've been thinking about false rape allegations. Cheery thought, yes? Partly it's been triggered by a recent episode of Veronica Mars (apologies for the spoiler, there...) and partly by the increasing accounts in my arch-nemesis, the Daily Mail, of women who, and I quote, 'cry rape'. That in itself is a problematic term - the implication is that, like the boy who cried wolf, the only real punishment is to rape her. I've heard people say that, people whose opinions I would normally trust, and it makes me spitting mad.

It's no secret that getting rape to even reach the courts is difficult, especially when the perpetrator was an acquaintance or when the victim was under the influence of drugs or alchohol. And it's no secret that even when a case is brought to the courts, the prosecution rate is disturbingly low.

I want to know on what grounds these women are seen to be 'crying rape'. Was the case dismissed because of lack of evidence, because it was her word against his? And no, I'm not discounting the idea that some women do falsify sexual abuse allegations. But the number of women who do that in no way equals the number of rape cases that go unpunished. In the most recent case - I'm not linking to the article I read, it's bad enough I even click on the damn webpage in order to get my sometimes daily free fix of what the other side are saying - the woman (who was 16 at the time) stuck to her story, although there were the occasional discrepancies.

I'm concerned that increasing prosecutions for women who are supposedly fabricating sexual assault will result in a significant drop in reported rapes. What's the point if you'll only be punished for telling the truth? For me, and perhaps this is a personal thing, one of the worst claims that can be made is that a woman had consensual sex only to change her mind afterwards. By 'afterwards', do we really mean 'during'? Or do so many women walk away from a sexual encounter feeling somehow wrong about it but reluctant to call it rape just because they decided at the last minute they didn't want to after all/didn't want to do a particular thing and got either verbally or physically coerced into it?

I know a lot of women who either wouldn't or haven't wanted to make a big deal out of it. And when the right-wing media jump on women whose claims have been unheard or whose cases have been unsuccessful, can we really blame them?


At 8:58 AM, Blogger Erika said...

The number of false rape allegations is the same percentage as any crimes. People make up burglaries, theft and other crimes. Interestingly there is a helpline for men who are suffering from domestic violence and they have to be very careful because 50% of the men who phone are NOT victims but perpetrators of violence on women.

At 12:50 PM, Blogger flora said...

Did you see the piece in The Observer (I'm sure it was that one) magazine over the weekend about the woman who had been raped and her struggle to get the guy charged? It was a very interesting piece.

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