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AN “ALARMING” number of British adults remain unclear about what constitutes rape, making it harder for juries to reach fairer decisions, a study reveals today.
A third of the nearly 4,000 people surveyed by the End Violence Against Women (EVAW) coalition said an incident would not be rape if there was no sexual violence committed.
Of the female respondents, 21 per cent said it would not generally be considered rape if the victim had flirted on a date, even if she had not explicitly consented to sex.
EVAW co-director Rachel Krys argued that society was “failing to respond to the call for help” prompted by the Me Too campaign, the international movement exposing and shaming sexual violence and harassment.
“These figures are alarming because they show that a huge proportion of UK adults, who make up juries in rape trials, are still very unclear about what rape is,” Ms Krys said.
“Me Too has shone a light on the scale of sexual violence and more women are seeking justice. Yet as a society we are failing to respond to this call for help, and this year the number of cases being taken forward by police and the courts fell.”
Campaigners have called for an independent review of how the police and courts deal with rape.
Ms Krys said: “It’s vital that justice for rape victims is prioritised and we put in place measures to make the system fairer. We also need guaranteed counselling for all rape survivors – and practical and legal help if they choose to report to the police.”
Only 89 per cent of respondents said that sex with someone who was either asleep or too drunk to consent constitutes rape, with 5 per cent saying it was not usually rape and 1 per cent saying it never was.
Around 11 per cent of respondents voiced the belief that the more sexual partners a woman has, the less harm she will experience from an attack.
Nearly a quarter of people, mostly over the age of 65, said non-consensual sex within a long-term relationship was not rape.
And a third of men think a woman cannot change her mind after sex has begun, the study found.
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