Rounding up…

// 7 July 2008

fawcettmap.gifRapists face little risk of being convicted in this country – that much we know. But research by Fawcett out today shows that the situation is much worse in some parts of the country than others.

But the society said the conviction rate had got worse in 18 out of 43 police areas. For example, in Bedfordshire the conviction rate four years ago was 8.3% but it had dropped to 3.2%. Northamptonshire had the biggest fall in conviction rate – 6.6 percentage points – from 13.8% to 7.2%. The figures showed that fewer than one in 30 women who reported a rape in Leicestershire saw a conviction, while in Cleveland the figure was far higher, at about one in seven.

The Guardian didn’t print a response from Northamptonshire’s police force, unfortunately. But it wasn’t a totally depressing picture – change is possible:

One of the best-performing forces compared with the 2004 figures was Gloucestershire, where the conviction rate rose by 6.57 percentage points. Jeff Brooks, a detective superintendent with Gloucestershire police, said: “We are very encouraged to see that Gloucestershire is the area where the greatest improvements have been made in tackling rape.

“After the Fawcett Society published the 2004 figures, which showed that only 0.8% of rapes reported in Gloucestershire achieved a conviction, we overhauled our strategy on sexual violence.

“We have begun to turn things around by working to collect better evidence early on in rape cases and supporting victims effectively through the criminal justice process.”

Check out a bigger version of the map here.

Meanwhile, the police say that 18,000 girls and women have been trafficked into this country and are now in forced prostitution.

Reports the Independent:

The Government insisted that the success of the campaign, which has resulted in 24 convictions, was evidence of its determination to hinder the work of the gangs behind sex trafficking. Of the 167 women and teenagers released, all but five were being used as prostitutes. The rest, of whom three were children, had been sold as domestic slaves.

Mr Brain also revealed that a large number of residential properties were being used to sell sex (of the 822 premises raided, nearly 600 were private homes). “In some of the cases, neighbours have not suspected any kind of unusual activity,” he said.

Prostitution and people-trafficking is now the third most lucrative black-market trade in the world after gun-running and drugs-smuggling. It is being driven by growing demand for prostitutes in the UK, with websites promoting sex flourishing and local newspapers carrying advertisements for prostitutes. Gangs often share the income from internet “bookings”.

Barack Obama may be stepping back from his long-held pro-choice views, according to ABC News (via Feminist Law Professors – link broken)

On late-term abortions, he recently said:

‘I have repeatedly said that I think it’s entirely appropriate for states to restrict or even prohibit late-term abortions as long as there is a strict, well-defined exception for the health of the mother. Now, I don’t think that ‘mental distress’ qualifies as the health of the mother,” Obama said. “I think it has to be a serious physical issue that arises in pregnancy, where there are real, significant problems to the mother carrying that child to term. Otherwise, as long as there is such a medical exception in place, I think we can prohibit late-term abortions.”

Could loosening up restrictions on talking about your wage packet with your colleagues help close the pay gap? It does make sense – after all, if you have no idea what your workmates are earning then how are you meant to tell if you’re being discriminated against? Bosses that operate fair pay schemes should have nothing to fear…

In fact, this lack of transparency around salaries has led Fiona*, a graphic designer working for a publishing company, to launch a grievance procedure claiming discrimination under the Equal Pay Act after she discovered a year ago that she was paid several thousand pounds less than her male counterparts. “I was chatting with a female colleague and found out she was on quite a lot more than me and the male graphic designers were on even more money.” Fiona went straight to her line manager and brought up the subject of her pay. “I told him I felt disheartened and unmotivated. The irony was that I was training my male colleagues, who were earning more money than me to use new software.”

Cate has left Dollymix! You can still catch up with her at

And, finally, what’s with the lede for this story? Perhaps it’s my reading material today which makes me bristle at the phrase “magnificent men in flying machines”.

Comments From You

E-Visible Woman // Posted 7 July 2008 at 3:56 pm

I don’t know if I’m happy or sad that Scotland was left off the map, for once!

The rape conviction rate in Scotland was 3.9% – it has since gone down to (I think) 2.9%.

Amy // Posted 7 July 2008 at 6:21 pm

Although it’s a good thing that the national average has increased to 6.1% (admittedly, still too low), suggesting – in a very optimistic way – that maybe, one day, we will see even better improvements (cos dammit, we need them) I am horrified that my county’s (Bedfordshire) average has dropped from 8.3% to 3.2%. That is sick and disgusting, and chills my blood.

But, it is promising to see that Gloucestershire police managed to kick their own arses into gear as a result of the shockingly low 2004 0.8% average.

Hopefully, if Gloucestershire police can be encouraged to improve themselves, then other counties – such as my own – will be encouraged to improve in similar ways.

But 6.1% is still not good enough. Essentially, even though there have been some cases of improvements – such as the national average, and more specifically Gloucestershire – it is still abundantly clear that rape is not taken seriously.

Marina // Posted 7 July 2008 at 7:27 pm

Should women demand reduction in taxies that goes to keep police since police and prosecution services consistently fail to satisfy women’s need for justice? Why should we pay for service which provider is not able to provide?

One has definitely more chances to satisfy need for justice through witchcraft that with help of police.

Anne Onne // Posted 7 July 2008 at 8:23 pm

I’ve always been suspicious of how companies are trying to bring about parity between men and women for how much they earn when there is all this secrecy about how much everyone earns.

The rape statistics are… depressing, really.

Ugh, Barack Obama trying to court the opposition. Or at least, I hope he’s trying to court them, as opposed to showing his true ideals. *sigh*

Anna // Posted 8 July 2008 at 9:34 am

Marina – I always wondered this.. I’m about to move out for the first time and don’t know how I’m going to face paying the ‘police’ bit of my council tax [is it even council tax that covers that?] when I used them when I was raped and found they practically laughed me out of the station.. ‘you were in his room, drunk, alone? what did you expect?’

Marina // Posted 8 July 2008 at 1:21 pm

Anna, exactly my point. Yes there is a line and amount for upkeep of police in council tax bill. I don’t understand why should women pay it in same amount as males (may be they should simply adjust the figure for single women’s households), when they don’t get the service and it is proven by facts on that map.

My experience with british police: when I reported neighbours’ domestic violence against woman, police didn’t react at all, despite I said that it happened to her on more than one occasion. When another neighbour reported his wife (not that she was violent in my opinion just shouted (it was outside under my windows)) – an entire bus full of armed guys arrived with in minutes. Only two came out though, the rest was just seating in the buss getting paid for their time. A bus full of men against one drunken woman!

Danielle // Posted 9 July 2008 at 3:48 pm

I saw this report on the local news today, and it’s definitely encouraging that conviction rates are rising in some places.

There was one thing that annoyed me though- the only rape victim whose voice was heard (anonymously) on the report was a man.

Now I’m not saying that male rape isn’t as important, and I commend the man for speaking up- I think male rape needs to be recognised. But it felt almost as if they were somehow justifying their report on rape victims by including a male victim, rather than having women “whine on” about it as usual. Or maybe it was because they knew more people would listen?

Either way, female rape as a gendered form of violence wasn’t even alluded to.

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