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News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

November 22, 2005: Widespread Public Ignorance Of Rape

A new ICM opinion poll commissioned by Amnesty International indicates that a third (34%) of people in the UK believe that a woman is partially or totally responsible for being raped if she has behaved in a flirtatious manner.

The poll, ‘Sexual Assault Research’, published as part of Amnesty International’s ‘Stop Violence Against Women’ campaign, shows that similar “blame culture” attitudes exist over clothing, drinking, perceived promiscuity, personal safety and whether a woman has clearly said “no” to the man.

For instance, more than a quarter (26%) of those asked said that they thought a women was partially or totally responsible for being raped if she was wearing sexy or revealing clothing, and more than one in five (22%) held the same view if a woman had had many sexual partners. Around one in 12 people (8%) believed that a woman was totally responsible for being raped if she’d had many sexual partners. Similarly, more than a quarter of people (30%) said that a woman was partially or totally responsible for being raped if she was drunk, and more than a third (37%) held the same view if the woman had failed to clearly say “no” to the man.

Changes in the law relating to consent mean that an alleged rapist must show that they had taken reasonable steps to ensure that the other person had consented to sex. In this respect the poll exposes a gap between the law and public attitudes.

ICM interviewed a random sample of 1,095 adults aged 18+ by telephone on 7-9 October 2005. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of adults.

The poll also shows that the vast majority of the British population has no idea how many women are raped every year in the UK, with 96% of those polled saying they either didn’t know the true extent of rape or that they thought it was far lower than the true figure.

The British Crime Survey 2001 indicates that there were at least 47,000 female victims of rape in England and Wales in 2000. his figure did not include Scotland or Northern Ireland and did not take account of legislation (Sexual Offences Act 2003) broadening the definition from anal/vaginal penetration to include oral penetration.

  • Only 4% of respondents even thought the number of women raped exceeds 10,000 per year when the true figure is likely to be well in excess of 50,000.
  • Six out of seven people either said they didn’t know that only 5.6% of rapes reported to the police currently result in conviction or believed the conviction rate to be far higher.
  • The average estimate was of a 26% conviction rate, nearly five times higher than the actual rate.

Amnesty International's UK Director Kate Allen stated:

“This poll shows that a disturbingly large proportion of the public blame women themselves for being raped. It is shocking that so many people will lay the blame for being raped at the feet of women themselves and the government must launch a new drive to counteract this sexist ‘blame culture’.”

“In addition to uncovering disturbing attitudes over women being ‘to blame’, this poll also reveals the scale of public ignorance of the unacceptably high numbers of women raped every year in the UK as well as the dreadfully low conviction rates.

“The government has an international duty to prevent this gross human rights violation yet it’s clear that the government's policies on tackling rape are failing and failing badly.These findings should act as a wake-up call to the government to urgently tackle the triple problem of the high incidence of rape, low conviction rates and a sexist blame culture.”

South Essex Rape and Incest Crisis Centre Director Sheila Coates said:

“This poll shows that people don’t realise how common rape actually is and that there’s little understanding of how many people rape crisis groups actually support. Groups like ours are picking up an ever increasing number of helpline calls and waiting lists are growing. The situation for rape victims and women’s specialist sexual violence services are at critical. Those needing counselling face waiting lists of up to one year and this can only get worse as more rape crisis groups close or cut back services due to a lack of funding and government support. This situation has forced victims into a post code lottery when trying to find support.”

Amnesty International’s poll comes ahead of a new call on government later this week from a coalition of women’s organisations, Amnesty International and the TUC for an integrated government strategy to combating violence against women in all its forms in the UK, including sexual assault.