INDEPENDENT NEWS

Blame The Offender Not Young Women - Rape Crisis

Published: Wed 16 Aug 2000 04:00 PM
Blame The Offender Not Young Women, Says Rape Crisis
Rape Crisis said today that perpetrators of sexual assaults should be blamed rather than young women, and that comments made by a Palmerston North CIB detective could deter women from reporting to police.
"Only a third of people contacting Rape Crisis choose to report to the police - the press release made by Detective Nigel Hughes is unlikely to give women confidence in reporting sexual assaults to Palmerston North CIB, " said Claire Benson, National Spokeswoman for Rape Crisis. "This could result in even more sexual offenders getting away with it and committing more sexual assaults."
The press statement says that large proportion of recent sexual assault allegations were found to be false or 'simply made because of a feeling of uneasiness by the complainant about what had happened the night before.'
Some had not proceeded 'because there was insufficient evidence to corroborate the complainants statement...due to the intoxication by the complainant or because they have regretted their involvement in the incident.
'Quite often the complainant has no recollection of the previous night and believes that something has happened because they can't remember themselves.'
"It is extremely difficult to get sufficient evidence to proceed in cases of sexual assault because often the only witnesses are the survivor and the attacker. By isolating the survivor, the attacker ensures that there are no witnesses and that the attack can happen without interruption, says Ms Benson. "Our society still blames sexual abuse survivors for what has happened to them - and this may lead survivors to blame themselves and to scrutinise their own actions for fault. While action may sometimes reduce the likelihood of being attacked, the only person capable of preventing it is the offender."
Sexual abuse survivors may also be reluctant to press charges because they know the offender and fear being blamed or disbelieved. While Rape Crisis acknowledges that false complaints are costly in terms of resources, staff time and goodwill, they represent only a small percentage of the total number of sexual assaults. Many sexual abuse survivors choose not to report to police because they are intimidated by the prospect of going through the criminal court process.
"Instead of blaming people for being intoxicated, we have to blame those people who chose to attack someone who is incapacitated - they know they'll encounter less resistance and may be less likely to be recognised. Some offenders have been drugging people's drinks so that they are vulnerable to attack - one side effect may be memory loss."
"We find the comments by Detective Hughes patronising and blaming young women. The experience of Rape Crisis is that many young women are very serious about ensuring their own safety and looking after their friends," says Ms Benson, "The reality is that the majority of sexual assaults are committed by people you know, most often your family and friends, the people you trust to protect you."
--ends--
For further comment contact Claire Benson, National Spokeswoman.
C/P 021 684 227, 04 384 7028

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