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Brits blame flirty women for rapes.

Byline: By Neville Dean

A third of people in the UK believe a woman is partially or completely to blame for being raped if she has behaved in a flirtatious manner, according to "shocking" research published today.

More than a quarter also believe a woman is at least partly responsible for being raped if she wears sexy or revealing clothing, or is drunk, the study found.

One in five think a woman is partly to blame if it is known she has many sexual partners, while more than a third believe she is responsible to some degree if she has clearly failed to say "no" to the man.

In each of these scenarios, a slightly greater proportion of men than women held these views - except when it came to being drunk, when it was equal. In fact, more women (five per cent) than men (three per cent) thought a woman was "totally responsible" for being raped if she was intoxicated.

Support groups described the findings as "alarming" and "appalling".

The national charity Victim Support urged criminal justice professionals and healthcare workers to "consider how best to educate people about the terrible impact of rape, with a view to changing these attitudes".

The ICM opinion poll, commissioned by Amnesty International, also revealed that the vast majority of Britons had no idea how many women are raped every year in the UK. Almost all, 96 per cent, of respondents said they either did not know the true extent of rape or thought it was far lower than the true figure.

Only four per cent even thought the number of women raped exceeded 10,000. The number of recorded rapes in 2004/5 was more than 12,000 and the 2001 British Crime Survey estimated that just 15 per cent of rapes come to the attention of the police.

Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen said the poll, part of its Stop Violence Against Women campaign, had uncovered "disturbing attitudes".

She said: "It is shocking that so many people will lay the blame for being raped at the feet of women themselves and the Government must launch a new drive to counteract this sexist blame culture."

Joanna Perry, policy manager at Victim Support, said: "It is alarming to read that so many people seem to believe that a woman is responsible for inviting a rape or sexual assault, because of what she was wearing, what she drank or how she behaved.

"Rape is an appalling crime and has a devastating effect on victims, and those close to them. In other words, nobody asks to be raped."

Ruth Hall, from the support group Women Against Rape, criticised "prejudices" in the court system while Sheila Coates, director of the South Essex Rape and Incest Crisis Centre, said the support systems for victims were already stretched.

"Those needing counselling face waiting lists of up to a year and this can only get worse as more rape crisis groups close or cut back services due to a lack of funding and Government support. This situation has forced victims into a postcode lottery when trying to find support," she said.

A Home Office spokesman said: "We have made a number of changes to the legal system and to how the police and Crown Prosecution Service work, to put victims needs first and to make it easier for cases to get to trial and secure convictions

The number of rapes of a female in 2004/05 was 12,867, up from 12,345 in 2003/04. The number of convictions in 2004 was 741, up from 666 in 2003

ICM interviewed a random sample of 1,095 adults aged 18+ by telephone

They were given scenarios and asked to indicate whether they believed a woman was responsible, partially responsible or not at all responsible for being raped

If the woman was drunk, four per cent said she was totally responsible and 26 per cent said she was partially responsible

If the woman behaved in a flirtatious manner, the respective figures were six per cent and 28 per cent

If the woman failed to say "no" clearly to the man, eight per cent and 29 per cent

If the woman was wearing sexy or revealing clothing, six per cent and 20 per cent

If it is known that the woman has many sexual partners, eight per cent and 14 per cent

If she is alone and walking in a dangerous or deserted area, five per cent and 17 per cent
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 21, 2005
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