More on rape

// 28 November 2007

Following on from Jess’ post about the Government’s proposed changes to rape trials, I wanted to flag a few additional points on the issue of rape.

The first is the Fawcett Society’s response to the Government’s announcement which suggests that while the proposed changes are obviously most welcome, they might be a bit of a red herring because they:

will not by themselves lead to a significant improvement in the conviction rate as most cases fail long before they get to court.

Instead, Fawcett recommends:

wholesale reform is needed to tackle the failures in the investigation and prosecution of rape cases.

The second point I wanted to make was that while the Government is making these announcements focusing on justice for victims – which is very important – it is simultaneously continuing to undermine support for victims as the new report by the End Violence Against Women (EVAW) Coalition reveals today. Blogging on openDemocracy’s 16 days against gender violence blog about the Map the Gaps report (pdf), Holly Dustin, Campaign Manager at EVAW, writes:

Scotland is the only part of the UK where Rape Crisis Centres are actually expanding rather than closing! The reason for this is very simple; the Scottish Government is developing a strategic approach to ending violence against women that includes a commitment to funding specialised services.

Liz Kelly, Chair of EVAW, sums up some of the key issues in the report’s press release:

Support services for women who have experienced violence are essential for their access to safety, justice and the ability to move on. At present a third of local authorities across the UK have no specialised support service. Most women in the UK have no access to a rape crisis centre and fewer than one quarter of local authorities have any sexual violence service at all.

Finally, I’ve written a piece examining whether rape sponsored by governments should be considered in a different way to rape perpetrated by civilians, also on the openDemocracy blog. It’s a pertinent discussion right now because the US is in disagreement with South Africa about it at an international level. The US has drafted a new UN resolution that specifically targets the use of rape and sexual violence by ‘governments and armed groups’ to achieve military or political aims. South Africa is challenging the resolution, on the grounds that all rape is bad, and rapes in detention centres, situations of foreign occupation, and by civilians are no less despicable than those perpetrated by the military. There’s a comments section under the post if you want to share your opinions on the issue.

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