Dear Neighbours writers:

// 6 November 2007

If, as I fear, you are indeed leading up to another ‘evil, conniving gold-digger cries rape for selfish personal gain to detriment of poor, upstanding, heart broken man’ type story line, I will reach out my infamously long limbs all the way to the other side of the world, risking severe sunburn and rabid boxing kangaroos in the process and give you all a well deserved slap. Or two.

For the uninitiated (ie those of you who don’t have the student luxury of the Neighbours lunch break), a current storyline in which a male character discovers the mother who gave him up for adoption and finds out her younger son was a product of rape by her ex (still with me?) took a turn for the worse today when said male character confronted his father/her ex to discover that (according to father, anyway) he had never been anything but a loving husband who desperately wanted a part in his sons’ lives and she cut him out of her life in the hope she would find someone else who could ‘give her what she wanted’. Considering she had a fling with the rich businessman Paul Robinson, I’m thinking he may well be referring to money. Typical, eh? She cries rape and she’s a gold-digger.

And that’s the problem. You’d think from the frequency with which this type of storyline is portrayed onscreen that women were making false accusations all over the place, on the slightest selfish whim, and, guess what?, that is exactly what most people seem to think. Ever get onto the subject of the appalling conviction rate for rape cases, and most everyone will pipe up with ‘but what about the poor innocent men who end up in prison because women lie just to spite them?’ Aside from the fact that if I wanted to get back at an ex I can think of a thousand and one more effective ways to do so than trying to convince a sceptical police force that he raped me, then getting my sexual history, my integrity and every part of my life analysed and called into question in court while banking on a less than 6% chance that he will be convicted, there is very little evidence to suggest that the rate of false allegations for rape is any higher than for any other crime. Those studies that conclude otherwise appear to be highly dubious: check out Maia’s series of posts on this for more details. Her analysis of the Home Office’s report on this is particularly illuminating:

I just want to finish with the Home Office study Gap or Chasm? That study used case-tracking analysis to investigate 2,643 rape reports. Of these, the police recorded 216 reports as false allegations, that is – about 8%.

It is worth remarking that of these 216 cases recorded as false allegations, there were 39 cases involving a named suspect and six arrests. Two men were charged. This puts somewhat into perspective the grand plaint – WHAT ABOUT THE POOR INNOCENT ACCUSED MEN! – that we hear so often when it comes to false allegations. Only 2 men were falsely charged (0.08% of all rape complaints), only 6 men were arrested (0.23%) and only 39 men were even placed briefly under private suspicion (1.48%). […] It shows that in most cases – contrary to what many MRA-types believe – the false allegation is not made for the purpose of revenge, because most women who falsely claim to have been raped do not name an attacker.

I wish it didn’t need saying, but it does: we need to stop with the bullshit about all women being liars, and start accepting that men rape and there’s more or less nothing stopping them getting away with it. So take heed, Neighbours writers : I loves you all, but if this storyline ends up with Rebecca being vilified as an evil rape crying gold-digger and her ex as some kind of Fathers for Justice pin-up, you know what’s coming.

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