"When I woke up this morning, the first story I heard on the news was the report by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) into the incidence of false allegations of rape. It was a real relief to hear that one of the biggest and most damaging myths about rape was being busted; it is 'very rare' for women to make false allegations of rape. The head of the CPS, Kier Starmer, had tracked the number of reported rapes, prosecutions of attackers and prosecutions for false allegations over a 17 month period and found that of 16,041 reports of rape, 5,651 were prosecuted and only 35 of these were prosecutions for false allegations. This means that just 0.2% of reported rapes were false allegations.
We knew this in the Rape Crisis movement all the time of course. What we know is that it is incredibly hard to report a rape at all; only around 15% of women ever report the crime. And we know that women don't report because they fear not being believed and they fear the humilation and the exposure and the questions and the justifications they'll need to make for their behaviour or dress or drinking. Women also know that the myth that false reporting is common is all pervasive, and fear being labelled in this way. So, reporting is a huge step and most never do. The myth is very, very effective in silencing women.
And our society, fuelled by the media, colludes with these untruths and provides perpetrators with cover for their crimes.
Don't doubt that this is the case. Within hours of the CPS report being published, BBC Radio One's Newsbeat reported on the story. With the angle that women were much maligned? Er.... no. With the angle that allegations are 'common' and that the effects on men were 'devastating'. By 7.30am, the BBC Radio 4 Today programme had used part of it's interview with Kier Starmer to ask whether in the light of these findings, shouldn't the anonymity of those accused of rape be protected. Mmmmm...... interesting angle, totally missing the point of the story. Tired myths, lazy journalism, collusive and misogynistic reporting.
In DRCS we know the truth. We believe women. We don't judge women. We don't label women or mistrust them. We validate them. And we continue to fight for accurate representation."