Rape is the penetration of a woman without her consent when the defendant had no reasonable believe that he had consent.
It is a worrying state of affairs when the female chairwoman of the Bar Council, Maura McGowan, comes out in favour of an unworkable plan in favour of anonymity for men accused of sex crimes because allegations of a sexual nature “carry such a stigma”. There is no anonymity for those up for Murder, or for Armed Robbery, or for Burglary, or Criminal Assault, or Fraud, or Terrorism, or Child Abuse, or any other major crime – these offences also carry quite a stigma, but she is quite happy about that apparently.
Women who have been raped also carry a stigma, not because their name has not been protected, but because they carry a shame that lives inside them forever.
Anonymity was granted to rape defendants under the 1976 Sexual Offences Act, but was removed in 1988.
Rape is on the increase in this country, because the rapists get away with it. There are probably 100 thousand women raped every year in the UK – that is hundreds EVERY day – but it is calculated that only 1 percent of the rapists are caught and convicted. Some rapists are even tried and acquitted – that is because the justice system lets the women down. The men involved walk free claiming their innocence and the law has ‘cleared’ them. But our law allows only 2 trial outcomes – guilty or not guilty, with the latter verdict meaning that the prosecution didn’t prove guilt not that the defendant was innocent.
We have seen from the Jimmy Savile revelations how even a serial rapist and sexual predator can repeatedly get away with it. Also it has demonstrated how publicity has proved essential in identifying many other suspected rapists, when numerous victims have come forward. Anonymity would be the lifeblood of a rapist – they rely on their crime being secret and hidden. More women would be put at risk if accused rapists are given such protection as being unidentified.
In addition to the annual number of rapes, over 400 thousand women are sexually assaulted each year. It is estimated that the cost to the country in dealing with the aftermath runs into many billions of pounds.
Something has got to be done to correct the unacceptable statistics on rape convictions. New techniques are required, such as better use of forensic facilities, use of specialist prosecutors, greater victim support, higher CPS priority, improved police action, etc, together with more funding – this disgrace has to be ended now.