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Feminism: Sex & gender discussions

Lack of convictions for RAPE...I really want to do something about this, if possible

142 replies

InmaculadaConcepcion · 03/03/2011 12:57

Having just read about the DM story concerning the man acquitted of rape because he was "too drunk" and the subsequent horrendous account of a poster's own failed attempt to get justice for her rape on the same thread I am spitting with rage.

I want to do something positive. I have a baby daughter and I don't think I can be comfortable with myself if I don't make some attempt to fight for justice for rape victims and send out a message that RAPE IS A SERIOUS CRIME AND SHOULD BE TREATED AS SUCH.

I have two thoughts so far about this:

  1. Set up a campaigning blog reproducing press accounts of rape cases and (where no press reports exist) publishing rape survivors' own accounts.


2. Set up a charity specifically to raise funds to assist rape survivors to pursue civil cases against their attackers.

These are just kernels of ideas at the moment, but I would welcome any suggestions about how I could make this work.
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SardineQueen · 03/03/2011 13:10

We were thinking last year of how we could actually do something and were thinking of rape as that's just so horrendous and the current situation is such a disaster. Len came up with the phrase "I believe you" and someone (proles? elephants?) even bought the web address.

Then it sort of petered out as we couldn't work out exactly what we were doing that was different to what other groups were doing and it sort of stopped. I know that it prompted some people to become more active with existing groups like rape crisis...

Anyway that's that bit.

On your second point I was thinking the exact same thing this morning.

I would be happy to get involved with stuff.

So I guess adding my support and saying that there are others who would be keen to get involved - but no practical ideas I'm afriad.

EngelbertFustianMcSlinkydog · 03/03/2011 13:28

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InmaculadaConcepcion · 03/03/2011 13:31

Great to get some moral support from you, SQ!
I'm happy to crack on with setting stuff up, as far as I can, but would LOVE to have input and ideas from others.

I was thinking about talking to "friendly" lawyers who might be willing to take on such cases with lower than usual fees, or no-win, no-fee etc. Including cultivating up and coming barristers (which would also serve to raise awareness of the issue among the next generation of lawyers, too....)

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InmaculadaConcepcion · 03/03/2011 13:32

Thanks, Englebert.

I would welcome any links to existing sites you have, that would be very helpful as I haven't properly investigated what's already out there.

I was thinking of "SetANewPrecedent" as a name for a campaigning blog....

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InmaculadaConcepcion · 03/03/2011 13:33

Right, I've got to take DD out for her buggy nap now. I will cogitate further while I pound the streets...

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scurryfunge · 03/03/2011 13:37

I like the idea about the blog to raise awareness but not sure about the civil side of things. Pursuing a case through the civil courts is fine if a criminal case has failed but I would not want it to take precedence -that would almost decriminalise rape and make penalties financially orientated.

SardineQueen · 03/03/2011 13:38

Do you have links to the legal profession IM?

Your ideas about talking to lawyers and other ideas in that post sound great.

No win no fee sounds a bit odd for this though, you'd need to call it something different if that was the model you were going to use. Also the brash ambulance-chasing eagerness image doesn't sit right. But the idea of making it so that victims of sexual violence who had not guilty verdicts or where the police wouldn't prosecute getting support advice and councelling or something and ability to launch civil prosecution is fab.

Prolesworth · 03/03/2011 13:38

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SardineQueen · 03/03/2011 13:39

Yes scurry you wouldn't want people doing it instead that would be terrible. But for people like BG or where the CPS won't prosecute - it's a great idea.

sethstarkaddersmackerel · 03/03/2011 13:40

I think you have to think 'what can I bring to the table?' ie what are your particular skills or areas of knowledge?
you need to find out what is already out there and what is needed.
if you have lots of contacts among lawyers I can imagine that might be useful, if it doesn't already exist.

I know what you mean about spitting with rage.

sethstarkaddersmackerel · 03/03/2011 13:42

when I talked to my lawyer friend this morning about BrokenGirl his first reaction was 'she could sue him for assault', which was interesting. He said there isn't much legal aid about at the moment but she may be able to find a solicitor who'd do it 'no win no fee'.

Mamaz0n · 03/03/2011 13:45

problem is that with rape it is one word against another. with criminal law you must prove beyond reasonable doubt. It is very hard to be able to reach that conclusion when it is two people offering simialr stories that balance purely on the basis of consent.

With a civil case you just have to get the judge to believe the balance of probability. It is far easier to get a decision in the favour of a victim in the cicvil courts than in the criminal.

so if it helps the woman feel she has receievd some form of justice, yet without the utter trauma of having to stand and give evidence under cross examination by a criminal barrister. I think that it is a very good idea.

GabbyLoggon · 03/03/2011 13:47

immaculate. difficult but something needs doing "Gabby"

Prolesworth · 03/03/2011 13:48

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dittany · 03/03/2011 13:50

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sethstarkaddersmackerel · 03/03/2011 14:03

I think the 'her word against his' thing is a red herring; after all, there are lots of crimes where it would be one person's word against another if you saw it that way: it's your word against the mugger's you didn't give him your handbag, your word against the burglar's you didn't let him in, your word against the person who drove into the back of your car that you didn't in fact reverse into them.
Only no-one thinks that because it would be ridiculous. And yet juries are prepared to believe a woman wanted to be beaten and strangled by her rapist because that was the kind of sex she liked Confused. Or that a man didn't know a woman didn't want sex because he didn't understand the word 'no' in English.

Mamaz0n · 03/03/2011 14:11

Oh don't get me wrong, i am appalled by it happening, I am just giving my theory as to why it is so much harder.

I know from my own experiences as both a rape victim and also as a member of a jury on a rape case that the entire system is set up to getthe man off.

At the end of the case we had the judge give us a talk about the law. He made it very clear that consent must not only be withdrawn but that the rapist must have understood that it had been withdrawn.

so to say no isn't enough. he must absolutly understand that no means no.

Which to me is teh most absurd thingin the world, and yet this is how the (in)justice system works.

AyeRobot · 03/03/2011 14:14

Been reading a bit about this today after seeing that case where a woman won damages after a sexual assault. Two immediate major drawbacks for civil cases are that it costs money and that the defendent can cross-examine the victim. I am sure there are more, but I am no lawyer.

Challenging rape myths on a day to day basis is one way of making a big difference. The wider public need to be seeing rape and consent to sex in a very different way than they do now. Juries need to be much more sceptical about the reasons given for belief in consent e.g does anyone here really believe that a woman giving a look to a man whilst having sex with another man means that she is consenting to oral sex? And juries are you or I or the person down the street that thinks that women in short skirts are asking for it. Let's really get the ripple effect in action and challenge at every opportunity (which I am sure you all do already. Smile)

scurryfunge · 03/03/2011 14:16

MamazOn, in England and Wales now the defendant has responsibility to ensure that the person is consenting - it is no longer enough to say "I thought she she was consenting".

AyeRobot · 03/03/2011 14:18

"He made it very clear that consent must not only be withdrawn but that the rapist must have understood that it had been withdrawn." Was this since 2003, Manaz0n? Is it just me, but that reads like the judge thinks that consent is presumed until withdrawn?

scurryfunge · 03/03/2011 14:20

It does sound pre SOA 2003 which is why I questioned it. It may well be Scottish law (which I think has just changed too).

Mamaz0n · 03/03/2011 14:23

Think it was 2001/2.

It was a non stranger rape case. she had allowed him to start performing a specific sexual act but then changed her mind. prior to penetration.

she had her underwear shown to the court. Her sexual history picked over and insinuations of her promiscuity. It was painful to watch.

It made me certain that unless i was raped by a stranger at knife point in the middle of oxford street in borad daylighta nd it was caught on CCTv iwould never ever report it.

That is why the conviction rate is so low. Because very few women feel strong enough to go through such an ordeal.

Prolesworth · 03/03/2011 14:25

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Prolesworth · 03/03/2011 14:26

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Mamaz0n · 03/03/2011 14:27

what do you mean by bad character? previous convictions or accusations? I think they are only given for sentancing, not during the actual trial.

Which seems ridiculsou given that the victim has her past raked through but not the defendant.

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