One-third believe victims of rape are to blame if they were drunk

By Jason Bennetto, Crime Correspondent 
Published: 21 November 2005

One in three people believe a woman is partly or
completely to blame for being raped if she has been
flirtatious, or is drunk, according to new research.
More than a quarter also believe a woman is at least
partly responsible for being raped if she wears sexy
or revealing clothing, a survey of 1,095 British
adults found. 

Rape support groups described the findings as
"appalling" and part of a "sexist blame culture". A
second study found that police continued to provide a
"patchy" service when they investigated rapes.

Poor police responses and prejudiced attitudes among
the public were part of the reason that an estimated
85 per cent of rapes went unreported, and that only
about 6 per cent of those recorded by the authorities
resulted in a conviction last year.

The public's attitude to certain types of behaviour by
women was revealed in a poll, commissioned by Amnesty
International, published yesterday.

One in five people think a woman is partly to blame if
it is known she has many sexual partners, while more
than a third believe she is responsible to some degree
if she has clearly failed to say "no" to the man.

Just over a fifth of people said that if a woman was
alone and walking in a dangerous or deserted area, she
was totally or partly responsible. In each of these
scenarios a slightly greater proportion of men than
women held these views - except when it came to being
drunk, when it was equal. More women (5 per cent) than
men (3 per cent) believed that a woman was "totally
responsible" for being raped if she was intoxicated.
Victim Support, the national charity, urged criminal
justice professionals and healthcare workers to
"consider how best to educate people about the
terrible impact of rape, with a view to changing these

The ICM poll also revealed that most of the British
population had no idea how many women were raped every
year in the United Kingdom.

Almost all, 96 per cent, of respondents said that they
either did not know the true extent of rape or
believed that it was far lower than the true figure.

Only 4 per cent thought the number of women raped
exceeded 10,000. The number of recorded rapes in
2004-05 was more than 12,000 and the 2001 British
Crime Survey estimated that just 15 per cent of rapes
came to the attention of the police.

Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, said
that the poll was part of its Stop Violence Against
Women campaign. She added: "It is shocking that so
many people will lay the blame for being raped at the
feet of women themselves and the Government must
launch a new drive to counteract this sexist blame
culture." She added: "These findings should act as a
wake-up call to the Government to urgently tackle the
triple problem of the high incidence of rape, low
conviction rates and a sexist blame culture."

The number of recorded rapes of a female in 2004-05
was 12,867, up from 12,345 in 2003-04 - an increase of
4 per cent. The number of convictions for rape of a
female in 2004 was 741, up from 666 in 2003.

A separate report by a working group for the
Association of Chief Police Officers found that fewer
than 10 out of the 43 police forces in England and
Wales had dedicated rape investigation teams.

It also found that some were not gathering forensic
evidence quickly enough. Eight forces were not using
early evidence kits, which allow samples to be taken
at the scene.

The review was carried out three years after police
were given new guidance on investigating rape, to try
to increase the number of successful prosecutions.

The progress report found that a number of forces -
including the Metropolitan Police, Derbyshire and
Greater Manchester - had made significant


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