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Melanie Harvey.

EASTENDERS has received 278 complaints following Monday's episode that featured a rape storyline.

The TV soap that has featured gangsters, drug dealing and child snatching, was also reported to broadcasting watchdog Ofcom by 34 people upset at the scenes.

I wonder how many people complained a week later when character Shirley Carter shot her ex-love Phil Mitchell on his wedding day? Surely, a shooting before the watershed is shocking, frightening and not good for the kids to watch? Of course it is.

So why the furore over a rape scene? I am sure more women were raped in Scotland in the last 12 months than shot their ex-boyfriends.

The same goes for male rape victims. The difference is rape is a crime we just don't like talking about.

We want it all to be hidden away because we just don't know what to do about it.

So, when a soap opera portrays a woman being raped by her husband's nephew who then manipulates her to make her believe it's her fault, we are horrified. And rightly so.

But are we horrified because of the actual crime, or just because we've seen it on TV? Nearly 2000 rapes were reported to Police Scotland between April 2013 and May 2014.

But more shocking is the fact that police say only 19 per cent of rapes against adults are reported.

Many attacks take place within relationships. Others happen after two people meet on a night out or at work.

In lots of these cases the victim doesn't go to the police because, like pub landlady Linda Carter in EastEnders, they convince themselves that they had done something to deserve the attack and are too ashamed to tell anyone.

Police Scotland set up the National Rape Taskforce earlier this year and vowed to treat rape as seriously as murder.

This is a massive step forward and I hope they mean it.

Having spent some time with a rape victim earlier this year and hearing the years of torment he suffered after the attack, I got a tiny insight into the awful damage that rape causes.

And while EastEnders might be chasing ratings with their rape storyline, I welcome anything that lifts the lid on a crime that is cruel, devastating and depressingly all too common.

Email me at m.harvey@dailyrecord.co.uk | Tweet @melharvey72

'Why the furore over EastEnders' rape story? More shocking is that only 19 per cent of rapes are ever reported'

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Title Annotation:Features; Femail
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 13, 2014
Words:411
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