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COMMENT: False tales of rape deter the true victims from speaking
9:00am Monday 21st October 2013 in News
RAPE and sexual abuse remain two of society’s greatest shames. False allegations like those reported in today’s Oxford Mail do nothing to help society tackle such sick crimes.
Fortunately, we have come a long way from an infamous BBC documentary broadcast 30 years ago which showed a grossly unsympathetic interrogation of a rape complainant by Thames Valley Police officers.
The force says it is committed to helping women make complaints and bringing as many cases as possible to court to send out a real deterrent and message to victims that justice will be sought.
Kirsty Debanks – who falsely accused her ex-boyfriend – deserves some credit for publicly apologising. Today’s interview may repair some of the damage.
Yet there is no question that false allegations are hugely damaging to all that is being done to stamp out sex abuse.
Firstly, it plays into a dangerous myth that a large number of rape claims are false, a myth that plagues complainants with self-doubt that their ordeal was somehow their “fault”. Secondly, it risks deterring women who are prepared to speak out because – no matter how sure they are of their case – they fear they will not be believed by police or jurors.
Those considering making a false claim must think of the impact their lies will have, not just for themselves and who they accuse, but on society as a whole.