Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Toughening rape laws?

I always get concerned when I here someone wants to toughen rape laws up, largely because I don't think they understand what the problem is, though perhaps that is me. Either way more research needs to be done.

Firstly the reason for raising the subject is that David Cameron has, along with some scary statistics that indicate some people (a worryingly large percentage) seem to thing forcing sex on people is OK.

The problem we have is one of evidence. In stranger rape lack of consent is easy to show, and I suspect that most, but with regret not all, jurors would not buy the "she was asking for it" argument. These rapes apparently form 17% of rapes. Apparently "date rapes" form only 4% which I have to say surprised me. The rest, seem to be made up of either people known to the victim, or partners/spouses (running at about 50%).

You are on a jury. Two people known to each other have had intercourse. The facts are virtually mutually agreed, apart from one key detail, consent. Each witness is totally convincing. Can you convict beyond reasonable doubt?

One thing that David Cameron did do was to compare our rape conviction sates with both the past, and other countries. The problem is what is legally rape is different now from the past, and also more narrowly defined abroad, so there would need to be much research to establish what is going on. We have apparently 5 times the rate of rape of Italy. Is this because we are by comparison morally bankrupt or is what constitutes rape and what people report as rape different?

Above all this seems to be more of a social problem than a legal one, or at least the solutions are. It could not possibly be right that that we lower the burden of proof required for one of our most serious crimes.

One interesting thing to come out of David Cameron's speech was that those convicted of rape are serving shorter sentences than 10 years ago. That needs some serious looking at as well.

The BBC has this

1 comment:

Zurich said...

Why would the people who write the laws ever bother toughening their enforcement of the same laws when they themselves enjoy traumatizing others in this brutal way?