Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Forcing women and girls to report rape can lead to false rape reports

In the UK, in 38% of investigations linked to allegedly false claims referred to the Crown Prosecution Service between January 2011 and May 2012, the initial complaint of rape or domestic violence was made by someone other than the suspect. That's a shocking statistic, but it is consistent with what we know about false rape claims. Among those under 18 it was 50% and often involved a parent. "It was a feature of these cases that the suspect later reported that the whole thing had spiralled out of control and he or she had felt unable to stop the investigation," the CPS report says. Source.

We know that false rape reports are often prompted by a loved one. A woman or girl will tell to a loved one -- a parent, spouse, or boyfriend -- that she was raped in order to cover up an illicit sexual encounter, and the loved one will either directly report, or urge the purported victim to report, the accusation. This is common among teen girls whose parents don't approve of her sexual activity. The girl fears her parents will find out (e.g., if she becomes pregnant, or the boy brags about it and word gets out), so she does a preemptive strike by telling her parents that the boy forced himself on her.  The parents' insistence that the police be contacted may be prompted either by anger about the boy's act, but it may also be prompted by an impulse to disbelieve the girl and to punish her by subjecting her to a miserable process of defending a false rape claim and destroying her young boyfriend for good measure.  That is simply wicked.

Feminist gadfly Amanda Marcotte explained that "the idea that it's shameful to just have sex because you want to" is "the reason that you have false rape accusations in the first place." Columnist Amanda Hess similarly talked about women who make false claims to defend their "femininity."

In an ideal world, when a girl reaches an when she can make her own decisions about sex, if she tells her parents she was raped, the parents should offer support and advise her that if she chooses to report it, they will stand with her. They should not, however, insist that the act be reported if she doesn't want to report it. Forcing her to report that she's been raped might subject her to an ordeal she doesn't want, and if it is false, it might destroy an innocent boy and get her in a lot of trouble for making a false rape claim.