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Rape Crisis comments on anonymity

23 Apr 2012

Rape Crisis (England and Wales) is deeply concerned by the naming of a rape victim in the wake of the Ched Evans trial and the considerable abuse on 'Twitter' and other websites.  Rape complainants have the legal right to lifelong anonymity and the breaching of that right is a criminal offence. 

Rape Crisis wholly supports moves to prosecute whoever disclosed the victim's identity in this case and we welcome any such action by the police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).   There are also serious questions that need to be addressed about the adequacy of the criminal justice system to deal with offences that occur online and we are calling for an urgent review of laws and practices. 

DCI Steve Williams said: ''North Wales Police are aware of reports of comments on social media sites and are collating all relevant information which is currently being reviewed. As and when criminal offences are identified on such websites they will bedealt with robustly and the offenders will be brought to justice. We find this to be profoundly disturbing and are determined to seek out those responsible. I would advise people who post such status and tweets to consider the implications of their action and those who add comments to appreciate that they may be condoning such behaviour and contributing to the continued trauma upon this young woman."

The CPS in North Wales is working closely with North Wales Police on this matter and will consider charges in relation to any files on individuals which are sent to them. The CPS legal guidance makes clear it is an offence to identify a rape complainant:

The aftermath of Evans' conviction and sentencing sadly highlights what those within the Rape Crisis movement have known for some time: that harmful myths about sexual violence, and those who experience and perpetrate it, are still deeply ingrained within our society. 

Currently, only around 10% of women and girls who are raped or experience other forms of sexual violence report to the police, and many tell no-one what has happened to them, often for fear of not being believed.  This case and ones like it do nothing to improve this situation. 

Rape Crisis is committed to raising awareness and understanding of rape and sexual violence and dispelling the myths that create an environment in which it is so difficult for women and girls to access the support they need and deserve.