The End Violence Against Women Coalition, of which Rape Crisis (England and Wales) is a member, have made the followiing statement today
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: WEDNESDAY 18 MAY 2011
Responding to new Government proposals to reduce sentences for rape defendants who plead guilty, and to Justice Secretary Ken Clarke’s remarks concerning categories of rape, End Violence Against Women Coalition Co-Chair Professor Liz Kelly said:
“The Justice Secretary's comments appear to trivialise the seriousness of rape and are in conflict with the Government’s own Violence Against Women Strategy which seeks to tackle attitudes that condone sexual violence, and to improve the criminal justice system’s response to rape.
“The facts are that around 60,000 women are raped in Britain every year - the majority by partners or men they know - and only a tiny fraction, around one in ten, report it to the police. Of these few cases, less than 7% result in conviction.
“We want to see more perpetrators brought to justice and convicted and better treatment of rape survivors. However we are very concerned that the Justice Secretary's comments reinforce common myths and stereotypes about what rape really is, he seems to be relying on an outdated understanding that only rape of strangers is 'real rape' and harmful.
“The End Violence Against Women Coalition wants to see urgent action to tackle attitudes that condone rape and prevent it from happening in the first place: this includes public campaigns to tackle stereotypes - such as that 'date rape' is less serious - as well as making it mandatory for all schools to deal with sexual consent and healthy relationships.
“These comments come in the same week that Nadine Dorries MP suggested that there might be less sex abuse if girls were taught to 'just say no'.
Clearly deep misunderstanding about sexual violence pervades all sections of society so we want to see better training for professionals including police, doctors, probation officers and teachers, and possibly MPs too!"