False allegations of rape not as common as the Mail would have you believe

05Feb07

I should have posted this on Thursday, but didn’t have time. So it’s a bit out of date now…

I just can’t keep away from the Mail this week. It burns my eyes, and yet I can’t not look.

The paper of choice for homophobes, petty racists and MRAs today has no fewer than two stories involving false allegations of rape.

The first of these is regarding a woman, Abigail Gibson, who alleged four different claims of rape and was sentenced to two years. Note how the headline refers to her as a “church minister’s daughter” – yes, ladies, our fathers still own us even when we’re 22.

I don’t want to minimise how frightening it must be to be accused of a crime of which you are innocent, but the man did not have to suffer through a trial (he was questioned by police, held in a cell overnight and had DNA taken for testing) and the woman was charged with perverting the course of justice. Unsurprisingly, there are howls of protest from the Mail’s commenters on how the system should be changed – and yet the system worked in this case. This is how it’s supposed to work. Unfortunately the system does not allow for all allegations to be proven in court before someone can be arrested – if the police feel they have enough evidence to charge someone, then charges are brought. If the CPS thinks there is enough evidence to get a conviction, the case goes to trial and the evidence is tested in court, then the jury delivers a verdict. Reading the comments, some Mail readers will clearly not be satisfied until any woman who dares to accuse a man of rape but fails to get a conviction is banged up for five years (the minimum sentence for rape). And that’s without the crazies who suggest that if she is now raped for real it will be All Her Own Fault as no one will believe her, or the one commenter who thinks that false rape allegations are the last resort of unattractive women who can’t get anyone to sleep with them.

I have to wonder what on earth could drive someone to make these kinds of false allegations. They are vicious, dangerous and only serve to shore up the opinions of those who think, against all evidence, that most rape accusations are false. The article states:

Duncan Bould, defending, told the court that doctors who examined Gibson said she was not mentally ill, but may have suffered some kind of sexual or interpersonal trauma in childhood which could explain her behaviour.

Before I even reached that point, I wondered if the woman had been sexually abused as a child. She made the first claim of rape against her own father as a teenager, and it’s hard not to think that something must have happened to her (not necessarily at the hands of her father, I have to make clear – he was investigated but no charges were brought) for her to make such a serious allegation against a family member.

A Home Office study in 2005 had this to say about false allegations:

Nine per cent of reported cases were designated false, with a high proportion of
these involving 16- to 25-year-olds. However, closer analysis of this category
applying Home Office counting rules reduces this to three per cent. Even the
higher figure is considerably lower than the extent of false reporting estimated by police officers interviewed in this study.

In another case reported by the Mail today, a clearly disturbed woman was imprisoned for nine years for a hate campaign against a psychiatrist (the man she accused of rape) and an accountant (his partner). She was also told to stay away for life from 40 people. These were all people associated with a court case resulting from an allegation she had made that she had been raped. The woman had obsessively stalked a psychiatrist and his partner. It’s clear that the woman had stalked the two, and I’m certainly not saying that she didn’t deserve the sentence. What bothers me is that this is the second article in the Mail in one day to reference a false rape allegation. It gives the impression of a pattern of false accusation amongst people who report having been raped.

The Mail also reports that police incompetence is to blame for the lack of rape convictions. All well and good so far. But shoehorned into the middle of the article is a scare quote on the government’s proposal that people who are over the limit by a certain amount should be deemed unable to consent to sex. The Mail thunders:

Such a law would mean any man who has drunken sex with a wife or partner would be vulnerable to a rape charge.

(And this is supposed to be a “news” article, not a comment piece.)

Well, yes. If his wife or partner reported it as rape. If your wife or partner loves you and wanted to have sex, she’s not exactly going to be down at the local police station making a complaint, is she? However, if you’ve taken advantage of someone’s lowered resistance due to alcohol consumption to force sex on them which they didn’t want then, yes, you are a rapist. And by the way, that works just as well for if the rapist is a woman and the victim a man, or they are both men or both women, something the Mail conveniently ignores.

“‘There are a very broad range of social attitudes brought into jury rooms around the country when jurors are considering these cases,’ [Sir Kenneth Macdonald, Director of Public Prosecutions] said.”

The thing is, a lot of these social attitudes are formed by reading papers like the Mail. If all you hear about rape is false allegations and the idea that consensual sex could be prosecuted as rape, no wonder jurors come in to the courtroom prepared to think that victims are making it up or have changed their minds about consenting. The Mail should consider how far it bears a share of the responsibility for Britain’s miserable rape conviction rate.

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3 Responses to “False allegations of rape not as common as the Mail would have you believe”

  1. Girlfrommarz – That a name from Heinlein by any chance?

    Please excuse the double post, but I strongly suspect that Uccelina has banned me. If you would like to continue our discussion, I’m happy to do so. You can e-mail me, at canadian.masculinist@gmail.com. I would have e-mailed you directly, but this was unavailable on your page. If you would prefer not to continue, I will of course, respect your wishes provided of course that you make them known to me.

    “Leaving aside the evolutionary psychology (evo-psych is all too often the last refuge of the scoundrel, when they need to fall back on the “we evolved to be like this!” argument because they’ve run out of convincing arguments), I don’t think Uccellina is implying that there is something wrong with the way men do things.”

    Mmm… I disagree, but this isn’t the point. I’ll take issue with the point.

    “I think she is saying that there are societal pressures for men and women to behave in a certain way, and those who deviate from what society has decided is the “norm” are treated as somehow “unmanly” or “unwomanly”.”

    I think that I would need something concrete to accept this. I’m skeptical, but willing to accept the possibility.

    “What feminists like me are saying is that behaving in a way that deviates from traits that are culturally identified as “masculine” or “feminine” doesn’t make someone less of a man or a woman.”

    My understanding is that as far as feminism is concerned, gender is a social construction. In other words, gender is not innate, but imprinted on children by their parents. This doesn’t seem to be your view. Rather, you seem to accept that gender is biological. Therefore, if gender is something biological, and not social, then why should society have any say at all? If it has a penis, it is a man, and nothing changes that. If it has a vagina, it is a woman, and nothing changes that.

    Yet, this seems to be exactly what women seem to want. Why then do women say one thing and do another? Women seem to claim that they want men to be more like women, yet when this is accomplished, they are unhappy, and long for a “traditional” man-a man which reflects society’s ideas about masculinity?

    “You may not find traditional gender roles to be a prison (great, glad it’s working for you – life is certainly easier if you don’t have to stand outside cultural norms), but there are many who do not conform to them who do feel confined by them – should those people be made to feel that they are somehow not enough of a man or woman because they don’t fit a cookie-cutter mould of what a man or woman should be?”

    In answer to your question, I think that this is a profoundly pessimistic (and therefore mistaken) view of gender-roles. A gender-role shouldn’t be a cookie-cutter, a gender role should be a frame-work. Not everything has to fit 100%. The pattern can be substantially distorted, yet still acceptable to society. For instance, I don’t feel like any less of a man because I don’t watch football. But as my wife attests, I’m still very much a man. I actually feel more comfortable in some, but not all, of the traditional male ets by overwhelmingly tellvirtues.

    Therefore, I think that gender roles are supposed to more flexible than feminists would have you believe, and I think that society reflects this. I think that it is feminists who are turning gender-roles into straitjacking men that men are sex-crazed abusers who have been oppressing women for thousands of years through rape and violence, while simultaneously telling women that they aren’t women if they don’t go into the working world, and earn exactly as much money as any given man.

    In firm answer to your question, no, I don’t think that a person should feel any less of a man or woman for not conforming to every portion of “manliness” or “womanliness,” but I think that feminists are primarily responsible for reinforcing this. In order to form an identity, I think that a person needs the freedom to be allowed to explore who they are, and how they fit, and I strongly feel that it is feminists who are trying to prevent men and women from being allowed to do so.

    The MRA movement in particular seems to be in favor of what it calls, MGTOW, or Men Going Their Own Way. To me, this is primarily about allowing men to explore where they fit, rather than be pigeonholed into one role or another, while still retaining a sense of manliness.

  2. 2 Marx

    Would you be so quick to jump to the defense, claiming ‘possible’ childhood abuse as an excuse, of men if they were making ongoing assaults against women’s good names by accusing them of a hienious crime, such as rape?


  1. 1 False Allegations « Take Back the News

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