Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Prosecuting rape liars 'violates human rights,' and rape victims' advocates want it to stop

The UK very, very rarely prosecutes women for lying about rape, but the few women who are prosecuted shouldn't be, say rape victims' advocates. They have launched a new campaign to urge the government to stop pursuing false rape claims so "aggressively." In fact, they seem to want the government to stop pursuing any false rape claims -- see their petition here. The most prominent advocate associated with the group that sponsored the petition once said: "Such prosecutions [of false accusers] must be stopped." She called such prosecutions "a concerted witchhunt."

The advocates' concerns are without merit. Over a recent 17 month period in the UK, only 159 women were charged with perverting the course of justice or wasting police time, and of that number, only 44 were prosecuted. The Crown Prosecution Service says that cases of perverting the course of justice for false rape allegations are "rare" since they are only brought where the prosecution can prove that the original rape allegation was false, and the decision to charge is "extremely carefully considered and not taken lightly." See here.

In other words, it's not an issue. But that's not good enough for some people. A law professor thinks that holding women responsible for false rape claims the way the UK does "violates human rights."

We think that allowing the lives of men and boys to be destroyed over rape lies that aren't punished violates human rights. To tell a victim of a serious crime that he is not entitled to justice because it was the "wrong" kind of crime is morally grotesque, but that's what these rape victims' advocates would do. Do we need to remind our readers what a rape lie can do? See here -- but don't read it on an empty stomach.

Beyond that, coddling rape liars does no favor for rape victims. Every rape lie diminishes the perceived integrity of every rape victim. Every unpunished rape lie undermines the public's confidence in the way rape is handled and makes juries all the more reluctant to convict even those who ought to be convicted.

Rape victims' advocates claim that prosecuting the few liars who are prosecuted somehow puts off victims from reporting. There is no evidence to support this, any more than prosecuting arsonists deters people from reporting fires. In 2010, the U.S. Senate held rape hearings, and a feminist writer live-blogged the testimony of Scott Berkowitz, President and Founder of the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). Mr. Berkowitz's testimony underscores the hysteria at work in the current petition:"On reporting [of rape]: More victims may not be reporting their rapes, but the reasoning has changed over the past few decades. 'A generation ago,' the reasons were things like, 'fear of not being believed; fear of being interrogated about and blamed for their own behavior, and what they were wearing. In short, they feared that they would be the one on trial.' Today, 'the perception of many victims has evolved.' Now they don't report for these reasons: 'they don't want their loved ones to know what happened; they're ashamed themselves; they just want to put it all behind them.' Today, 'fear and shame of how the police wil [sic] treat them' has moved down on the list of reasons victims provide for not officially reporting the crime. As much as we need to educate police to take reports seriously, Berkowitz says, we also must 'educate victims on the importance of reporting.'"

The police aren't putting off women from reporting, but hysterical rape victims' advocates might be. The Stern Review, at page 45, chided rape victims' advocates because they make it appear that law enforcement is terribly, and uniquely, ineffective when it comes to rape when that is not the case. It is rape victims' advocates' hysterics, the Stern Review scolded, that could discourage women from reporting their ordeals.

The other-worldly notion that police are conspirators enabling men to rape, and that we can only wage the "war on rape" by elevating the victimization of our daughters over that of our sons, are as puerile as they are blatantly unjust. Holding criminals accountable for their crimes is not a zero sum game, and a just society prosecutes both rapists and rape liars.

But are we really interested in a just society? Or are we more interested in playing group identity politics?