This is the joint website of  Women Against Rape and Black Women's Rape Action Project. Both organisations are based on self-help and provide support, legal information and advocacy. We campaign for justice and protection for all women and girls, including asylum seekers, who have suffered sexual, domestic and/or racist violence.

WAR was founded in 1976. It has won changes in the law, such as making rape in marriage a crime, set legal precedents and achieved compensation for many women. BWRAP was founded in 1991. It focuses on getting justice for women of colour, bringing out the particular discrimination they face. It has prevented the deportation of many rape survivors. Both organisations are multiracial.




'My daughter has seen her rapist several times... He just grins at her'

In the Media

Evening Standard, Viv Groskop, 26 November 2010

Taking a stand: Sally Freeman (not her real name) is angry that the police didn’t do more to convict her daughter’s rapist

It's back in the news,” sighs Sally Freeman. “Women are still having to go and complain.”

Freeman has spent the past four years campaigning to raise awareness of the police's incompetent treatment of rape cases.

As the Evening Standard reported this month, three officers from the Met's “Sapphire” sex crimes unit face possible prosecution over allegations that part of a victim's statement was fabricated.

Freeman's interest is personal — she has watched her 20-year-old daughter's life be virtually destroyed in the wake of a rape case where a conviction was not secured.

“I just wanted to get my daughter some justice,” she says. “I know what he has done to her. She was bleaching herself, bathing all the time … it was horrendous.”

We meet at the Kentish Town offices of Women Against Rape, the charity where Freeman works as a volunteer. In 2005, her daughter, then 15, came to her and told her she had been raped. She explained that she had met a man and the next day he called to ask her if she would like to meet up.

“My daughter was a naïve young girl who got in a car with this man. She thought he was about 19 — in fact he was 28. Like all kids, she made a mistake. He said he was going back to get his dog and she went in the house with him. She paid the price for that mistake.”

It took Sally's daughter six weeks to approach her mother and tell her about the attack.

“That was for a number of reasons,” Freeman explains. “She was worried about telling me because she had got in the car. She knew she had done the wrong thing. He had also threatened her. He told her, Don't dare tell anyone'.”

“Like most girls, she thought it was just going to go away — which is actually quite common. You see a hell of a lot of girls delaying coming forward because they think that they can cope with it. She assumed she could deal with it and forget about it but she obviously couldn't,” says Freeman, who has come across similar scenarios through her work at WAR.

“At the time I didn't see it. When she told me after six weeks I could see that was why she was bathing a couple of times a day. The outfit she had on that day, she never wore again.”

Initially the girl was too scared to go to the police, her mother says. “I convinced her and said, Don't be so stupid. Someone cannot get away with raping you'.”

The police were sympathetic. “They had his name (although it was false), address, mobile phone number and car registration. But it took three months until he was arrested.”

After a long wait for a trial and a catalogue of police errors, the accused man was acquitted.

Since then Freeman has launched multiple complaints, resulting in a damning report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) last year and the disciplining of four officers.

This is scant consolation for everything the family has been through.

“I could see it going wrong before my eyes and I just didn't know where to turn,” she says of the investigation, “Don't get me wrong — they never treated her in a bad way or made her feel bad. But they just didn't do the job.”

“When we got to court, we found that the police had lost phone evidence, which the judge said was an absolute disgrace.”

It is a pattern that is becoming depressingly familiar in the Met's handling of rape cases. Recently leaked police documents suggested that officers breached rules in several cases, where allegations were written off in an apparent bid to improve the unit's “clear-up” rate.

Earlier this year, an independent review led by cross-bench peer Baroness Stern found that the conviction rate for reported rapes remains at 6.5 per cent, although the conviction rate for those charged is much higher, at 58 per cent. This report followed two cases that raised questions over how rape is investigated in the London area.

Taxi driver John Worboys was arrested in 2007 and released without charge. He went on to attack a further 12 women. Last year the case of Kirk Reid, convicted of 28 assaults, led to allegations of “sustained failure” against the Metropolitan Police.

This is familiar territory for Freeman. The IPCC report launched as a result of her complaints found that hundreds of rapes and sexual assaults in one Sapphire unit were turned over to untrained, unqualified officers.

“It was clear they had been deliberately starving the Sapphire unit of resources and putting them into car crime and street robbery because they have targets to hit. They want it to look like they are clearing up these crimes but women and girls are suffering because of it.”

One of the most shocking aspects of her daughter's case — aside from the fact that she was just 15 at the time of the alleged attack — is that she was given no advice after the trial.

“They did nothing to protect her, full stop. She has since seen him several times. He just grins at her. Because obviously he has got away with it. She says to me, The police can't protect you, Mum'.”

Five years on, and her daughter is still devastated. “She is lost at the moment. She's unable to work.” Although she got a place at university, she has had to pull out because she just can't cope.

Her daughter has had a relationship with a man since, but as Freeman says, “it was an abusive relationship”.

“She has no self-worth so she doesn't actually think she deserves a good relationship.”

It seems preposterous that alleged rape victims are “protected” in court by giving video evidence from a side room (which Mrs Freeman thinks disadvantaged her daughter as the jury was not able to see her) but as soon as the trial is over, they are left to fend for themselves.

“When I picked her up from school to tell her he'd got away with it, she just kept crying and saying, They didn't believe me, Mum'. That will always stick in my head.”

There cannot be a retrial unless there is new evidence. “Although it was a tragedy and my daughter was a victim, we don't have to behave like victims, we can stand up and say, We're fighting back and we're not going to stand for what you've done'.”

Sally Freeman's name has been changed

Assaults in the capital
A total of 3,159 rapes were reported to the Met Police in the 12 months to October 2010, up by a third since the previous year. The rise is due in part to a change in police recording of rape reports.

The number of girls under 16 in London reporting they have been raped rose by 23 per cent last year, to 344.

The conviction rate for reported rapes is 6.5 per cent and the conviction rate for those charged with rape is 58 per cent.

Candice Marsh, 30, was attacked by Kirk Reid in Tooting in December 2001 on the way home from a Christmas party when she was 22. She was shoved to the ground before being molested. She could provide DNA evidence to the police due to scratching him during the attack.

Jasmine Gardner