Only 5.7 percent of rapes recorded by police in England and Wales end in a conviction, reports the Washington Post. “What are they saying?” asked the mother of one teen vicim. “That 95 percent of women that come forward are telling lies?” In Britain, a nation whose justice system has been used as a model around the globe, officials and women’s rights activists agree that rape goes largely unpunished.
Solicitor General Vera Baird, who oversees criminal prosecutions, estimated that 10 to 20 percent of rapes are brought to authorities’ attention. Government data say that 14,000 cases a year are reported and 19 out of 20 defendants walk free. “There will never be proper female equality and appropriate dignity afforded to one-half of the population if it’s possible to rape somebody and get away with it,” said Baird. Thousands of victims once chose not to go to police because of shame, women’s advocates say. Now, they say, the bigger reason is that rape victims feel the system is stacked against them. A 2005 police-commissioned report found a “culture of skepticism” in the justice system when it came to rape. It urged shifting the focus from seeking reasons to disbelieve the accuser to gathering evidence to support the charge.