Sometimes, I am really embarrassed to consider myself of the political left. Rape is a problem and we can all agree that – despite that the rate of prosecution and convictions need to increase – it should not be at the expense of:
a) What is right
b) Normal legal discourse
Unfortunately, that cat was let out of the bag many years ago when it the law changed so that police in the UK could release the name of a suspect before he went to trial. This is still the case today and because of the delicate and often political nature of the crime, the Police here take steps to prosecute women who have clearly made false and malicious accusations.
Yet American anti-rape group WAR (Women Against Rape) has decided to get in on the act. They persistently point to the fact that the crime is under-reported and that prosecution is difficult as though that has any bearing on either the number of false accusations or how to handle them. Why am I embarrassed to be on the left? When a crime such as rape is used to make a political point, where men could never be seen as a victim of anything and that we are supposed to share collective guilt such as this comment from the article demonstrates.
Lisa Longstaff, from War, said: “It’s appalling that when over 90% of rapists are getting away with it and two women a week are killed by partners or ex-partners, women who report violence are being imprisoned.
Sorry… but what does domestic violence or actual rapes have to do with false accusations? And at what point does a person perverting the course of justice become more of a victim than the person they have falsely and maliciously accused of a crime? It doesn’t unless you have the attitude that men as a whole share collective responsibility for the actions of one man, or disgracefully – you think that a false accusations is character building – as Catherine Comins believes.
“Men who are unjustly accused of rape can sometimes gain from the experience.” – Catherine Comins
Even giving them the benefit of the doubt that 100% of accusations are genuine, this is irrelevant to the question of how we should handle false allegations. Look at the statistics on the Guardian article; around 25% of false allegations led to a prosecution for the person making the false accusation. We know that some people make false allegations due to mental illness; this is a well-known phenomena and I am sure the Police take this into account.
In the last five years, the various UK Police forces have charged a total of 109 women with making rape allegations that later turned out to be false. Not unproven, not one word against another, not a case of not enough evidence… but false. That means no crime took place. The two may or may not have had sex or they may not have even met.
Think about what all this means in the context of the law as it stands. A man has his reputation torn to shreds because a woman makes a false allegation. One of the UK’s most notorious cases was of a woman who made a false allegation in order to claim compensation from a victims’ criminal fund – she was charged but avoided jail.
A man falsely accused of rape has probably been suspended from his job without pay, and afterwards he is unlikely to ever be seen as the victim – much like the two Coronation Street actors arrested in the last 18 months. Cleared – but nobody has held them up as victims of anything. There will also always be an element of whether he was guilty and got away with it.
We can argue about the figures all we like, and the fact that rapes occur does not mean that false accusations do not. I request anybody commenting here leaves the issue of rape statistics out of it – that data is irrelevant.