Police crackdown on rape is not enough. Mentalities need to change.

The Metropolitan Police revealed new measures to reduce the number of rapes. But is it enough? 


Barbara Tasch


The Metropolitan Police’s sex crime unit has announced that it will close down venues where a high number of women get raped.
I absolutely support that measure or any measure brought in by the Met’s Sapphire unit that might, even if ever so slightly, reduce the risk of sexual assault.
But I think that the police should put as much effort into trying to change the widespread public and institutional mentality about rape that shames victims. There has been a 14 per cent decline in reported rapes over a five month period from 2011 to 2012.
Unfortunately experts see this statistic as a lower number of victims feeling confident enough to report being raped, rather than less rapes actually happening.


A mentality that discriminates


The problem of rape victims being too scared or ashamed to report their ordeal is deeply rooted in the way society regards rape.
Too often women are shamed and accused of ‘asking to be’ raped because of the way they dress, dance or act.
The treatment that a lot of victims receive from the police only shows more discrimination.
Reports from victims show that too often, police officers are not keen on talking to rape victims and treat them with disdain.
The mentality problem within the police has not only been pointed out by victims, women’s charities and lawyers, but also by former members of the police.
Unfortunately, as long as the police don’t try hard to tackle this problem, the number of women feeling confident enough to report rapes to the police is at a danger of falling even lower. Meanwhile the number of rapists not being prosecuted will rise.
The Met and other forces have made great progress on rape over the last 30 years. Women stand a much higher chance of prosecuting a rapist than ever before, and the Sapphire unit should get credit for this.


Sapphire officer jailed for 16 months


Former Kingston Police officer, Ryan Coleman-Farrow, was sentenced last month to 16 months in jail. He failed to investigate 10 rape cases and three sexual assault cases. Such behaviour should, in my opinion, be more severely punished than with 16 months in jail.
Not only did he not perform duties that he should have, he failed to protect the public, made already very vulnerable people feel even worse and let potential rapists live on.
This is just one example of a real problem that exists within the police. Instead of just starting “a hard-hitting prevention campaign to target male behaviour and speak to women about reducing their vulnerability”, they should also think about running a campaign within the police force on how to treat rape victims, and on trying to change their mentality towards rape in general.


This does not appluy to every policeman


By this I do not mean that every policeman has that kind of mentality, it is a very small proportion, but any proportion is too high.
The main problem is that the police won’t recognise the severity of the problem.
One could have hoped that in 2012 any behaviour trying to undermine rape as a serious offence or trying to blame and shame the victims would have been eradicated.
The police have come a long way with rape over the years, but when it comes to recognising the ordeal victims go through, they’ve still got a heck of a long way to go. 

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