A drop in rape convictions in the UK has prosecutors questioning the way in which cases are handled.
There were 133 fewer rape convictions in 2013 than in the previous year, despite a rise in sexual assaults reported to police, according to a Bureau of Investigation Journalism report.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, is concerned that the number of cases referred to prosecutors fell nearly a third since 2011.
In one case, apparently, an attorney told a woman who had been raped that she couldn’t pursue a case against her attacker “particularly bearing in mind the type of underwear that you had on at the time.”
The woman, who didn’t wish to be identified, said she was wearing Spanx shapewear, The Telegraph reported.
“We have certainly seen some indication that cases which we thought should have gone through [to charge] didn’t,” Saunders told The Independent.
“There is best practice out there,” she added. “It’s just that not everyone is doing it.”
“The number of convictions should be much higher,” Marianne Hester, professor of gender and violence at Bristol University, told The Independent.
“But most cases do not end up in court, and this is not because the rape did not happen but because the police may not be vigorous enough in pursuing evidence, or because victims may be deemed too fragile to cope in the court setting, or because they are seen as the ‘wrong’ kind of victim if they have been raped before,” Hester said.
She claims the drop in referrals and convictions gives the impression that those reporting sexual assault aren’t being believed.
“We will not see convictions improve significantly until there is a change to the institutional mindset which blames the victim for being raped,” said Mary Mason, the director of Solace Women’s Aid.