INDEPENDENT NEWS

Increased rape sentence won't apply to most rapes

Published: Thu 16 Dec 1999 04:45 PM
Rape Crisis said today that the Court of Appeal decision to increase sentences for rapes committed in the home from eight years to eleven years will not impact on the vast majority of rapes and sexual assaults.
"Over 70% of the women coming to Rape Crisis have been raped in their home, generally when they were children," said Claire Benson, National Spokeswoman for Rape Crisis, "However their attacker is usually someone they know, most often a family member. The Home Invasion legislation does not apply to attacks committed by someone legally entitled to be there."
"Only a third of the women who come to Rape Crisis report to the police - and many cases that go to the police simply do not proceed due to lack of evidence. We are also concerned that eleven years is very close to the penalty for murder - we hope that this does not encourage offenders to murder their victim who is the main witness."
Rape Crisis advised the National Government of the inherent flaws in the Home Invasion Bill, but it was passed with only the Opposition arguing against it.
"While we have been left with this incredibly flawed piece of legislation, we hope some good can come out of it," said Ms Benson, "The increase of this benchmark to eleven years may have a trickle down effect to other rapes and sexual assaults where sentences have been extraordinarily low."
Last December Rape Crisis protested the sentence of 2 years awarded for unlawful sexual connection when a man sexually assaulted his 10 year old cousin.
While Rape Crisis believe that long sentences may be effective for some offenders, prevention and rehabilitation programmes are more effective in the long-term.
"Of course there will be some offenders who won't change - Bert Potter has spent 10 years in prison and expresses no remorse.But increased sentences merely serve to keep offenders out of circulation. We want to see their attitudes change and this is where the programmes in prison and the community are effective,"said Ms Benson.
"We're excited about the change of government - we hope that the Labour-Alliance Government are able to implement the violence prevention strategies outlined in their Justice policies."
--ends--
For further comment: Claire Benson National Spokeswoman Rape Crisis 021 684 227 or 04 384 7028

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