Friday, 7 January 2011

False Rape Allegations - Womans Hour BBC Radio programme.


(In most of my blog posts so far, I have tried to avoid giving the reader my opinions. I have simply quoted from the programmes and let them speak for themselves. However, in this programme, I have had to make certain points clear to the reader, so as to prevent the reader from consuming misinformation.)

On with the programme.

'Leyla Ibrahim, a 22 year old woman was sent to prison for 3 years, after she was found to have falsley accused 4 young men of raping her.

One of the the young men in the Ibrahim case is said to of attempted suicide, and all 4 are reported to have been publicly abused.

Earlier this month, a 24 year old student was sent to prison for 18 months after she made a false accusation of rape against a cleaner at her hall of residence.'

In the first part of this programme, we hear from a man that has been falsely accused, taxi driver Clive Barker.

Interviewer to Clive: "What did they say (the police) about why they were there? (his home)"

Clive: "When we got into the living room, my first thoughts were that something had happened to my son or daughter who live by themselves. They said a young female had made an allegation against me of rape, and we are arresting you on allegation of rape of a 17 year old."

Interviewer to Clive: "After 6 weeks the case was dropped. What explaination was given to you?"

Clive: "I recieved a phone call from my solicitor dealing with the case, telling me that the police were taking no further action."

Interviewer to Clive: "What have been the consequences for you and your family?"

Clive: "Heartbreaking. Soul destroying. Its been a total nightmare for the last 3 and a half years. Jumping through hoops to get to the bottom of how I was treated. I just felt totally persecuted, as though I was guilty."

Interviewer to Clive: "How much do you still have to protest your innocence?"

Clive: "Its a never ending question. Obviously recently, its been in the news because I've just lost the compensation claim, through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Award Scheme. I think the old addage 'mud sticks' does prevail."

Interviewer to Clive: "Why do you think this young woman made this complaint about you?"

Clive: "I did learn later, that when I dropped her off at home, she could not gain access to her house. She found herself locked out. She then went to a neighbour who did not let her in. She then went to another neighbour who did take her in. When she was eventually arrested, after being brought in on two separate occasions to give her the opportunity to tell the truth, and declining, she said that she found herself locked out of the house, and wanting to get attention from her boyfriend."

Interviewer: "Leyla Ibrahim was given a 10 month sentence for perverting the course of justice."

The second part of the programme involves a discussion between the interviewer, and Nina Graham, a criminal defense barrister based in Manchester, and Catherin Briddick, a barrister who offers advice on 'The Rights of Women Legal Advice Line'.

Interviewer: 'Given that it's feminist ideology that women dont lie about rape, what did she (Catherin) make of Clive's story.'

Catherin: "What women tell me, and the empirical evidence available in relation to rape in the Criminal Justice System, suggests that the problem here isnt the very small number of false allegations that are made, but the low conviction rate*. The evidence available suggests that false rape reports are no different for false reports of other types of criminal activity."

(*NOTE FROM BLOG OWNER: The low conviction rate is a myth, and is explained in 'The Stern Review' (2010), an independant review, commissioned by the British Home Office, into how rape complaints are handled by the authorities in England and Wales. The conviciton rate for rape in 2008 was 58%, roughly inline with any other type of crime that reaches the courts. The Stern Review will be the subject of a future blog post on this site.)

Interviewer to Nina: "The statistics would suggest that it is as rare as the false reporting of any other crime. What impact do you think that has?"

Nina: "Well, Im not sure it is quite as low as Catherin will lead you to believe. This is provable false allegations we're talking about here. This is not the fact that there are alot of acquittals subsequently as a result of complaints which cannot be proven (as false). But its about 9%* as far as Im aware, in terms of provably false allegations, which mirrors other false allegations in terms of the percentage. Its very difficult because thats quite a high figure. 9% is not a small figure. Its not an insignificant amount. And when compared to the impact that a false allegation on an accused has, it has to be taken very seriously."

(*NOTE FROM BLOG OWNER: few studies have been done on false-rape accusations. Kanin's studies are probably the best known, which show a figure of 41% of all claims officially declared false.)

Interviewer to Nina: "But you could be falsely accused of murder. Isnt that just as shocking as being accused of rape?"

Nina: "Im not sure that it is. Its been the case since 1992 that the Criminal Justice System as a whole repeatedly recognises that there is a particular stigma surrounding rape."

Interviewer to Catherin: "Catherine would you accept that there is a particular stigma surrounding rape?"

Catherin: "No, I dont think so. If we single out rape and say false allegations are worse than other things, what we're actually doing is reinforcing a culture of scepticism, which dictates that women lie about rape. The significant problem here is the fact that (rapes) arnt being robustly investigated in some cases, and that those women arnt being properly supported*."

(*NOTE FROM BLOG OWNER: Catherin trys to change the debate to rape itself, which is not what is being discussed here. This programme is about false-rape allegations.)

Interviewer to Nina: "Nina, its no longer the case that a judge is responsible for a 'corroboration warning', which, used to be there, where he or she had to warn a jury that women and children do tend to lie about these matters. But might there be a case that a culture of scepticism still hangs around this crime?"

Nina: "No, I dont think thats correct actually, and I dont understand why Catherin explains it as she does. What the criminal justice sytem says, is that your presumed innocent untill proven guilty. Your entitled to a trial by your peers, and these matters are put before the courts in a very fair and proper way. I agree with Catherin absolutely that its the robust investigation of these offences that really needs to be persued here. I do understand that women are reticent to report rape for any number of reasons, and one of which may well be the fact they dont feel that they will be believed. But the recent discussions about wether publication of accused's details before their charge should be withheld, does nothing to increase that, or to give a signal out that they are not to be believed. Its simply a protective mechanism to those who are falsley accused in the very early stages of an investigation."

Interviewer to Catherin: "Catherin I know you believe the media exaggerates these stories, why do you think they are exaggerated?"

Catherin: "I dont know the answer to that, I think it comes down to what real rape is..."

(NOTE FROM BLOG OWNER: Again Catherin starts to talk specifically about the issue of rape, and what she thinks should be done to improve support for women that have been raped, which is not what is being discussed here. False-rape allegations are the subject of this programme, but time and again, Catherin shifts the debate away from false allegations, to that of rape. This is a common tactic used by feminists in false-rape debates.)

Interviewer to Catherin: "But what about support for someone like Clive?"

Catherin: "Defendants are give significant support."

Interviewer to Nina: "Theres enough support for men already, for men who are accused?"

Nina: "I dont understand why Catherin says the things she does. They are not provided with any form of counselling to assist them with this process, and Im not quite sure what she refers to."

Interviewer to Nina: "Obviously the anonymity question is the hot topic at the moment. What rights would you like to see a defendant have?"

Nina: "I think the anonymity of the accused pre-charge is certainly something that should be properly explored. I've been looking back over my experience, which is extensive, and also talking to a colleague, who between us, have 50 years of experience in working in these types of cases, and neither of us could think of a single case that we had ever dealt with, where publication of the identity of someone like Clive, who's given his account, had actually led to further complainants coming forward pre-charge."

Interviewer to Catherin: "Clive wasnt charged, should he have remained anonymous?"

Catherin: "I would say Clive shouldnt have remained anonymous."

(NOTE FROM BLOG OWNER: So basically, Catherin doesnt want even basic protections for men and boys against malicious false-rape allegations.)

UPDATE - On the 12th of November, 2010, the British government ditched a key pledge to grant men charged with rape anonymity untill conviction. Even the most basic protection, anonymity between arrest and charge (as in Clives case, above) has been abandoned.

A British newspaper source said that Justice Secretary Ken Clarke had taken 'the path of least resistence', after an outcry from feminist labour MP's, and feminist campaign groups.

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