Sunday, 9 November 2008

This Is Not An Invitation To Rape Me.

Rape Crisis Scotland are running a campaign called This In Not An Invitation To Rape Me (click for the link). It's a poster campaign with four different strands: Dress, Intimacy, Drinking and Relationships. In their own words

"This campaign is targeted specifically at public attitudes to rape which blame women for rape, and is focused on four main myths: a woman raped while wearing revealing clothing is to blame for leading someone on; a woman raped after consuming alcohol is to blame for not considering her own security; a woman raped after consenting to any level of sexual activity is to blame for ‘giving mixed signals’; and finally that women can’t be raped by their husbands or partners." From the Factsheet

It is backed up by a website packed with the myths, the facts, the impact, as well as images, a quiz and details regarding the law- and details regarding where you can get help should you have experienced sexual violence. The 'fun' (and by fun I mean infuriating) facts that are highlighted on the website include:

1. "A survey of 986 Scots carried out by TNS System Three in February 2008 for the Scottish Government found that 27% thought that a woman bore some responsibility if she wore revealing clothing." Dress

2. "Almost a quarter (23%) of the broad cross-section of the Scottish population (700 interviewees) who took part in research carried out by Progressive on behalf of Rape Crisis Scotland in August 2007 believed that women contribute to rape if they have engaged in some form of sexual activity." Intimacy

3. "In 2002 the UK Home Office published the findings of a British Crime Survey to which 6,944 women had responded. Nearly half (45%) of rapes reported to the survey were committed by perpetrators who were victims’ partners at the time of the attack. Strangers were responsible for only 8% of rapes reported to the survey" Relationships

4. "Research conducted by Amnesty International in 2005 found that 28% of people believe that a woman is totally or partially responsible if she is drunk" Drinking

The billboard that I have personally seen has the wedding picture that I have put into this entry. I think the inclusion of marital/partner rape is a really powerful one because I feel that it is the one that is forgotten about most easily. Hell, it only became illegal in this country in 1989 (according to Wikipedia marital rape became illegal (hell, recognised as possible) in England and Wales in 1991). Another 'fun' fact I found out on the campaign website.

In Scotland the rape conviction rate is only 2.9% (with, according to The Scotsman, "huge regional variations in the proportion of cases that end up in court, from 19 per cent in Dumfries and Galloway to 1.7 per cent in Tayside."). To my mind that means that 97.1% of women who report rape to the police are legally found to be lying, just plain wrong, responsible for what happened to them or that their claims are unprovable. Now I'm not saying that every woman who goes to the police is telling the truth (although, given what I know about the way women who claim to have been raped are treated by the police, the courts, the press and the rest of the fracking world I would be very surprised if the number of false claimants wasn't very, very, very, exceedingly small- reporting rape is traumatic in and of itself) but I do think that a 97.1% conviction rate is terrible and that, with the conviction rate in England being around 6% we are seriously letting ourselves down as a country (what, should I not play on old Scotland v England prejudices?) not to mention as a society of supposed human beings.

This campaign is a result of this information regarding the conviction rate coming to light back in August of this year. More importantly, the Scotsman reported in that original article that

"The Crown Office has carried out a detailed review into rape prosecution, while the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland undertook its own investigation.

Both produced a list of recommendations which are being implemented. For example, about 500 prosecutors and fiscal-service staff are undertaking specialist training to boost the chances of rapes being successfully prosecuted." Source

Retraining sounds like a good thing for all involved. Undoing the social conditioning that insists that men can't help themselves, women lie and women should do more to protect them (i.e. that sometimes she asks for it) I think would be more useful. And that's where this campaign comes in.

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