Every victim who comes forward will be believed?

Joan Smith points out that it’s a bit much to tell girls in school to be sure to report rape when in reality reporting rape tends to be a dead end, with a lot of misery on the way to the dead end. “Be sure to report rape, even though it’s futile and will also bring a world of bullying down on your head.”

Suddenly everyone is talking about a “rape culture” in schools. Not for the first time, it has to be said, but influential MPs, headteachers and senior police officers are urging anyone who has been attacked to report their experiences. “Every victim who comes forward will be believed, will be listened to and dealt with sensitively,” according to Simon Bailey, the national police lead for child protection. Really?

“Really?” is exactly what I was saying as I read that. No, of course not really. It is not true that every victim who comes forward will be believed. The truth is pretty much the opposite – every victim will be doubted.

Official figures tell the story: on average, about 1,060 women report a rape to the police in England and Wales each week. Only 40 of those rapes will lead to a prosecution, and about 27 will end in a conviction. More than 1,000 men a week are getting away with rape, in other words, and that’s only the cases known to the police. Many more go unreported, never featuring in the statistics.

Far more than do get reported, I think. Women know how this plays out, so mostly they don’t report it, because futile plus miserable. Thanks anyway but no.

When public figures urge girls to report rape, they should be honest about the fact that they are directing victims into a completely broken system; rape has all but been decriminalised, encouraging a culture of impunity among perpetrators. Hardly any rapists end up in prison, so what do they have to fear?

Especially when they get to shame and humiliate the accuser on the way to not going to prison?

There are now more than 8,000 posts on the Everyone’s Invited website, but it does not seem likely that they will change this atmosphere of corrosive distrust towards victims. Bailey’s statement that girls who come forward will be believed is hard to square with pronouncements from the country’s most senior police officer, the Metropolitan police commissioner, Cressida Dick, who in 2018 reversed her force’s policy of believing individuals who report rape.

We live in a society where half the population faces an ever-present threat of sexual harassment and assault at school, at work and in our own homes. But the criminal justice system is so intent on protecting the interests of men and boys accused of rape, it no longer does its basic job of providing justice for victims.

Keep wearing those shorts under the school uniforms, girls.

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