Ex-judge: Drunk women the reason for rape acquittals

A FORMER judge has claimed rape conviction statistics will not improve until women "stop getting so drunk".

Retired judge Mary Jane Mowat said it is an inevitable fact of being "one person's word against another" during rape trials, of which the national conviction rate currently sits at 60 per cent.

She told the Oxford Mail conviction rate of cases that go to trial will not improve unless women stop drinking so heavily.

Judge Mowat, who retired this month, said: "It is an inevitable fact of it being one person's word against another, and the burden of proof being that you have to be sure before you convict.

"I will also say, and I will be pilloried for saying so, but the rape conviction statistics will not improve until women stop getting so drunk.

"I'm not saying it's right to rape a drunken woman, I'm not saying for a moment that it's allowable to take advantage of a drunken woman.

"But a jury in a position where they've got a woman who says 'I was absolutely off my head, I can't really remember what I was doing, I can't remember what I said, I can't remember if I consented or not but I know I wouldn't have done'. I mean when a jury is faced with something like that, how are they supposed to react?"
 

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A spokesperson for Rape Crisis England & Wales told The Independent that while Judge Mowat makes clear that it is never "allowable" to rape a "drunken woman", her remarks could still be potentially "very harmful".

Katie Russell said: "The point that she and other influential people within the criminal justice system should be making clearly and publicly is that the legal responsibility is with the defendant in a rape case to evidence how they sought and received consent.

"And if a woman is incapacitated through drink or drugs then she is not capable of giving her consent."

Ms Russell said only an estimated 15 per cent of all rape victims go to the police, often because of feelings of shame and self-blame or for fear of not being believed or taken seriously.

"If we are ever to improve levels of reporting, and levels of criminal justice for sexual violence survivors, we must remain focussed on the behaviour and culpability of perpetrators, not victims," she said.

"One hundred per cent of the responsibility for any act of sexual violence lies with its perpetrator."


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