Rape, Regret and Rosie Dodd

Rape has been in the news of late recently quite a bit: genuine rape, real rape, legitimate rape, forced rape, rape of an unwilling victim, it would seem that every politician on both sides of the atlantic these days wants to make a public statement simultaneously telling people how terrible rape is and how certain forms of rape don’t count.  For all the twitter spats, facebook clearances and screeds of blogposts this generates, it is worth looking at how these attitudes manifest themselves in the real world and the impact that it has on victims of rape.  This impact is not only confined to the frustration that victims feel when their violation is written off, but is also seeing them gaoled for reporting “illegitimate rapes”.

Which brings us to the case of Rosie Dodd.  In June last year, while still a teenager, she went out drinking, downing eight vodkas when she met three men in their early twenties. They took a bus to a house in the Clifton area of the city, and all three men had sex with her.  Afterwards she texted a friend to say she “felt dirty” and contacted the police to report that she had been raped by all three men.  The police apparently “grew suspicious” and found “inconsistencies in her account” (although no details of “inconsistencies” are publically reported) and challenged her account.  At which point she retracted the allegations.  She was then prosecuted for Perverting the Course of Justice, and this week was sentanced to two years in gaol.

No motivation for reporting rape was given other than a vague sense of “regret”.  So are we really supposed to believe that a sexually active, sexually confident young woman, who had apparently posted pictures of her liaisons with other men on social networking sites was motivated to go to the police simply because she regretted having sex?  People regret things, including sexual liaisons, all the time, but go to the police?  Really?

This conflation of rape and regret can be seen in the “Anti-rape” campaign of West Mercia police who put up posters earlier this year which stated “Dont let a night full of promise turn into a morning full of regret”.  Regretful sex is no business of the police, no more than regretful eating of the last slice of chocolate cake.  It may be undesirable – a public health matter even – but it is not a police matter.

The CPS Guidence on Rape and Sexual Assault openly acknowledges the myth  that “women “cry rape” when they regret having sex or want revenge”, noting that that this myth reinforces stereotypes of the ‘vindictive woman’, reinforces stereotypes of women as untruthful;re-victimises and stigmatises the victim; and undermines her support for seeking justice. Commenting on the case outside court, the Head of Nottingham’s Rape Investigation Unit repeated that rape myth (No 7 in the CPS Guidence) practically word for word.

“People lie that they’ve been raped for a multitude of reasons – like having regrets about having sex with a person, or as a way of getting back at someone.

Detective Inspector Stephen Waldram, head Nottingham Rape Investigation Team

The CPS guidence goes on to state

It is an unfortunate fact that myths about rape and sexual violence are brought into the jury room, and form an obstacle to obtaining convictions.  It is therefore imperative that we recognise these myths and challenge them at every opportunity.

CPS Legal Guidence on Rape and Sexual Offences

Note that “challenging them at every opportunity” doesn’t mean the head of the Rape Investigation Team repeating them outside the courtroom to be reported in every newspaper across the land as evidence of a slut who felt shame.  Of course in this instance this myth didn’t prove an obstacle to obtaining a conviction, it would seem it was key to the prosecution – of the rape victim.

…police actively investigate a false claim just as thoroughly as a genuine one

Detective Inspector Stephen Waldram, head Nottingham Rape Investigation Team

Well – that is after all what you expect.  That when a crime is reported, that it is investigated, rather than just been written off as a “no-crime”, although actually, as we all know, thats not what actually happens in practice – of 677 cases reported to the Met in 2005, a third were “no-crimed”.  Kirk Reid sexually assaulted over 100 women, eventually convicted of 27 assaults six years after the first report, while John Warboys, also suspected of assaulting over 100 women, was eventually convicted of 12 nearly a decade after the first assault was reported, both cases – like so many others – plagued with errors, coverups and incompetence.

What the respected Detective Inspector really means is that Nottingham Rape Investigation Team will police rape well.  They will make sure, by jove, that very few rapes occur in Nottingham, making damn sure that anyone who suggests that such a thing happens on their watch knows that they are liable for a gaol sentence for a crime against the state.

The police are, after all, “the rapists best friends“.







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