Police actually take rape accusation seriously.

// 10 September 2007

Shocked? With police officers assuming that around 23% of rape allegations are false, despite the figure being the same as for the majority of other crimes (3%), you’d be well within your right. Your shock will no doubt be banished, however, when it emerges that the accusation was filed by a man against, you guessed it, a woman.

The Daily Mail* reports that Tanya Hutchinson found herself accused of spiking the drink of the married man she had slept with the previous day after threatening to tell his wife what happened between them (a justified threat, I feel, considering he led her to believe that they had a long term future together, only to leave in a hurry, throwing £60 onto the kitchen table so she could ‘buy something for the kids’. Subtext : ‘shut it, you whore’.) The police have never been so thorough in their investigations:

When six police officers arrived at her home to arrest her in front of her seven-year-old son, she told them that the man’s allegation that she had spiked his drinks with a date-rape drug before forcing him into sex was ludicrous.

But despite her insistence that they had shared an afternoon of consensual sex, she was held in a police cell for four hours.

Then she had to describe every explicit detail of the encounter in a two-hour interview with five officers – four of them men – who she claims treated her as if she were guilty.

“I was stunned and terrified,” she said. “I felt as if it was me who had been raped.

“I had to tell the officers every aspect of what I’d done with the man, which was deeply humiliating.

“They ransacked my home and took away my bedsheets, phone and, worst of all, my underwear to carry out forensic tests.

The male accuser clearly didn’t have to deal with the kind of questions and accusations often levelled at female rape victims: the ‘what were you wearing at the time?’, the ‘how much had you had to drink?’, the ‘had you been flirting with him beforehand?’. He made an allegation of rape, and the police, quite rightly, took that allegation seriously. It does appear that they were overly aggressive in their investigations, and I wholly sympathise with Ms Hutchinson, but I cannot agree that the police were wrong to take the allegation seriously, even if it does indeed seem unlikely that a five foot woman could possibly have raped ‘a strapping, six foot businessman.’ The issue here is not that the police took his allegation seriously, rather that they took it seriously because he was a man; they took his allegation seriously where they would have looked with doubt and often disbelief upon a similar allegation made by a woman.

This man had no reason to fear that, rather seeing his purported attacker brought to justice, he would be the one defending himself from accusations of perverting the course of justice, like this female rape victim:

Last year, a teenager who reported being raped by three men in a park was cautioned by police for perverting the course of justice after the accused showed footage from a mobile phone of the victim engaging in sexual activity with one of the men. “It proved nothing,” she tells me, “except that they were filming the rape for porn.” Police have since wiped the caution after the victim challenged it.

The police clearly are capable of acting on a rape accusation; just make sure that you’re in possession of a penis when you make it.

Check out Truth About Rape for resources to help bust the myths surrounding rape and encourage the justice system and society as a whole to start taking male on female rape seriously.

Photo by William Hook, shared under a Creative Commons License.

*Don’t worry, I read the Daily Mail strictly for blogfodder only, and always give myself a good scrub down after doing so.

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