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It's Not Rape if She Flirted, Third of U.K. Men Think

Newsweek logo Newsweek 12/6/2018 Shane Croucher

A study into attitudes towards sexual assault in Britain found that a third of men in the country believe if a woman has flirted during a date then subsequent sex without consent would not generally count as rape.

The YouGov survey of 4,000 people, commissioned by the campaign group End Violence Against Women, turned up a number of what are described as “alarming” results about how the British understand rape.  

Read more: Court rules nonconsensual sex without violence doesn’t count as rape 

A third (33 percent) of the men we asked didn’t think it could usually be considered rape if the woman had flirted on a date then changed her mind, compared with 21% of women, the study said. The same number also believe a woman can’t change her mind after sex has started.

Another finding is that a third of people in Britain (33 percent) do not think it is usually rape if a woman is pressured into having sex against her wishes but there is no physical violence.

And 40 percent said the practice of “stealthing”—the removal of a condom during sex without the consent of the partner to do so—is either never or not usually rape.

Moreover, around one in 10 were unsure or thought it was not usually rape to have sex with a woman who is asleep or too intoxicated to give her consent.

“These figures are alarming because they show that a huge proportion of adults in Britain—who make up juries in rape trials—are still very unclear about what rape is," said Rachel Krys, co-director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, in a statement.

“It is known that the vast majority of women who are raped know the person who raped them, but for many people, the most commonly understood scenario is a single violent incident of rape committed by a stranger on a dark street.

"This could help explain why juries are so reluctant to convict particularly younger men where consent is in question.

“There has been a huge increase in the number of women reporting rape and sexual violence to the police and seeking support from specialist rape support organisations.

"#MeToo has shone a light on the scale of sexual violence, and more women are seeking justice. Yet as a society we are failing to respond to this call for help, and this year the number of cases being taken forward by police and the courts fell.”

The Campaign to End Violence Against women said there was a 23 percent fall in the number of charges for rape last year in Britain “despite a huge leap in reports to the police.”

Only 2,822 men were charged with rape during 2017-18, down from 3,671 in 2016-17. Yet between 2012-13 and 2016-17, the number of rape offenses recorded by police soared from 16,374 to 41,186, a 151 percent rise.

a close up of a womans face © iStock

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