A judge sparked outrage in Britain when she blamed the low conviction rate for sexual assault on victims who get too drunk to remember what happened.
Judge Mary Jane Mowat, 66, worked in Oxford until her retirement earlier this month. Locally, only 24 percent of rape trials resulted in conviction. The national rate of rape convictions in England is 60 percent, the Daily Mail reported.
“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,” Mowat said.
“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,” she added. “'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.
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“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?” she said.
“With victim-blaming attitudes like those displayed by Judge Mowat it is no surprise that conviction rates remain so low,” said Natalie Brook, service manager at the Oxford Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Center.
“Suggesting that rape conviction statistics will not improve until women stop getting so drunk is an outrageous, misguided and frankly dangerous statement to make,” Brook told the Daily Mail. “Rape convictions will improve when those who perpetrate it, who are disproportionately male, stop raping and when society stops blaming women for somehow being complicit in this act of violence.”
Brook says only 15 percent of women who are sexual assaulted in the England and Wales report the attack to police.
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“Rape is 100 percent the fault of the perpetrator and suggesting otherwise serves only to feed myths that do nothing other than deter women from reporting this crime or accessing the support they need,” she argued.
Katie Russell, from Rape Crisis England & Wales, told the Daily Mail that rape case evidence hinges upon whether the accused sought and received consent.
“And if a woman is incapacitated through drink or drugs then she is not capable of giving her consent,” Russell explained.
This isn’t the first time Judge Mowat has stirred up controversy.
In 2011, she gave a convicted pedophile David Armstrong a suspended sentence after telling him she couldn’t blame him for being a teacher who is attracted to children. More than 4,500 images of child porn were found in the 63-year-old’s home, the Daily Mail reported.
Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons / Kimery Davis,