This week seems like the perfect time to tell you about a new campaign we want to lend our support to. Set up by an amazing team of women, including former and current members of NMP3HQ, It’s Not Justice seeks to provide a space for survivors of sexual assault, abuse and rape to share their experiences of reporting. From dealing with the police to experiences of the courtroom they want to hear your story and shine a light on the shortcomings of the justice system.
New figures have shown that the conviction rate for rape continues to fall, despite a rise in the number of people reporting it, and is still the lowest conviction rate for any crime. Rape Crisis England and Wales and EVAW respond to the new figures here. Despite much work in this area and much needed revisions in the law and policy for the police and justice authorities; the problem persists.
There are many barriers to justice that victims may experience; from not being believed by the authorities at the first point of contact, (as outlined by this award winning piece of journalism: An Unbelievable Story Of Rape, by from the US), discrimination, aggressive and inappropriate questioning from defence lawyers, and finally to juror bias. Most of these problems stem from basic misunderstandings about the meaning of rape, and the prevalence of ‘rape myths’ in our society, in which media has a huge part to play. (We think the tea anology is a perfect one to help anyone with any confusion over the difference between sex and rape). The Crown Prosecution Service concedes that the pervasive concept of ‘real rape’ and other rape myths can make their way into the courtroom and deter juries from delivering a guilty verdict. The last place these myths should be coming from is the authorities themselves and that’s part of what what needs to change. As articulated by the brilliant Rizzle Kicks recently, ‘”What’s a woman’s sexual history got to do with whether or not she was raped? That insinuates that if a girl likes sex then she can’t be raped??”
Research done by Dr Olivia Smith demonstrated how rape myths would often be used by legal defence teams in rape cases as an easy way to discredit the victim and she writes for the website on her own work in this area:
‘My research has highlighted the difficult practicalities of going to court, from bumping into the offender to long delays before the trial starts. It has also shown that despite many judges and barristers appearing sympathetic to survivors, trials are full of myths and stereotypes about rape, as well as intimidating and invasive questioning.’
The website works on a submission basis, all submissions are completely anonymous and untraceable in order to protect the people who submit. Please feel free to add your story.
With love from HQ X