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.

 

 

 

Rape victims don't want tea and sympathy but protection and justice

In the Media

DSC04318LisaGDN.JPGDespite claims of 'progress', conviction rates for rape and violent crime have not risen, says Lisa Longstaff

The Guardian, Thursday 2 April 2009 

Following the disasters of the John Worboys and Kirk Reid rape cases, assistant Met commissioner John Yates admits that "nothing can excuse the failure to follow up straightforward lines of inquiry" (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/mar/26/john-yates-police Reinventing our response, 27 March).

But he tries to soften the blow by quoting a victim of Worboys - caught after years and maybe hundreds of victims - who told officers: "The most amazing thing you said when I first called up was, 'You will be believed.'"

Why is being believed even a question? Victims report rape assuming that their report will be acted on. Not tea and sympathy, but protection and justice. Yates gives a litany of initiatives the police have offered over years in response to women's complaints. But with all this "progress" he omits to mention that the 6% conviction rate for reported rape has hardly moved.

Yes, there are officers who fight for rape convictions - and for the resources to achieve them. But they are not the ones promoted, or supported from the top, as the recent IPCC report on another bungled case by Southwark Sapphire has found (Police targets 'meant car  crime was given higher priority than rape http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/ukcrime', 17 March).

Yates asserts that "rape investigation is a specialism" which "requires specially trained detectives". We're always told that rape is uniquely hard to prove. But Worboys and Reid went free because the most obvious evidence was not gathered. Anyone with common sense, a concern for safety and a commitment to justice would have done better. A teenage rape victim recently said of Sapphire officers: "I do think they genuinely believed me; but they didn't genuinely care."

Yates gives us a vital truth: "We are policy rich and implementation poor."

Rape is prioritised in rhetoric and deprioritised in practice.

"Among a range of heavy and competing priorities, rape cases simply do not get the attention they deserve," he writes. But who sets the priorities? The Home Office, the police, or both?

The IPCC found that "proactive" investigations, where the police take the initiative, are prioritised over "reactive" ones, such as responding to rape victims. Property crimes, counter-terrorism and surveillance of dissent seem to take precedence over the daily terrorism of rape and domestic violence.

How will this be addressed?

Of course there should be "joint working with the CPS ... to ensure the best evidence is obtained and presented to court". We've always said that if evidence is properly gathered and presented, many more juries would convict.

But Yates's proposal "to reinvent [the police] response" to rape, as was done after the murder of Stephen Lawrence, raises more questions than it answers. Racist attacks have increased, and only 7% of those reported result in conviction, much the same as rape. Stephen's murderers are still free and not one officer responsible for this was sacked.

It seems that no senior officer will face dismissal over the Worboys, Reid and Southwark cases. It is no longer enough to admit gross incompetence in catching violent criminals. To continue to protect officers who have presided over this regime indicates a refusal to be accountable to the public.

Lisa Longstaff is a spokeswoman for Women Against Rape

Tags: