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Why Is The Conviction Level For Rape So Low?

1320 words - 5 pages

“Last year around 6.5% of alleged rapes led to conviction. Why is the conviction level for rape so low?”

The question this essay addresses is the difficulty, in convicting rapists and understanding why the conviction level for rape is so low. Proving a rape happened is easier said than done, there are many factors that are critical to contributing to a conviction. Why is the conviction level for rape as low as 6.5%? To comprehend the underlying levels of conviction there are unfortunate factors from the police, the criminal justice system, the probability of evidence and issue of consent that make convictions immensely difficult to prove. This essay will investigate those measures showing the contrasts of rape and why it is tricky to prove rape occurred without consent, without any corroborative evidence, attitudes of police towards rape victims, the victims withdrawing their report due to personal circumstances and the handling of victims in court, that lead to many offenders having an non-custodial sentence or being acquitted of a rape charge.

In the first paragraph, I will explain what constitutes rape and the variations of relationships in which rape is committed. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 (the Act) came into force on the 1st May 2004. The purpose of the Act was to strengthen and modernise the law on sexual offences, whilst improving preventative measures and the protection of individuals from sexual offenders. The 2003 Act also changes the law about consent and belief in consent. Convicting a person of rape is defined under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 s1, it is as follows; “A person (A) commits an offence if: he intentionally penetrates the vagina, anus or mouth of another person with his penis, if person (B) does not consent to the penetration and if person (A) does not reasonably believe that (B) consents” .
When a rape is committed the offender can be a stranger, a partner, a family member or an acquaintance. After a rape has been committed victims were able to identify 67% of their offenders by name. If this is the case why is it that 23% of victims withdrew their complaints and 19% of victims did not want to purse a formal complaint? Totalling in 53% of victim`s withdrawing complaints against a partner or ex-partner. It may be questioned that the police are not supporting rape victims or the stigma of reporting a rape is still very present. However one example of this is Spouse rape formerly known as marital rape, until 1992 husbands could not be convicted of raping their wives” . Up until this law reform, “Martial Rape” was a common occurrence for many married women. The stigma of marital rape hasn’t completely been removed; married women in 2009 are still being raped by their husbands and are too scared to report their abuse. It is confirmed that women have been raped by a partner are less likely to report the incident and seek medical services, the British Crime Survey statistics from 2008/2009 show that rape and...

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