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SHOCK RAPE SURVEY: ASKING FOR IT; 34% believe women who flirt can be blamed if they are raped 26% say if a woman is in sexy clothing she is partly to blame.

Byline: By TOM PARRY

WOMEN who flirt, get drunk or wear sexy clothes are asking to be raped, according to a shocking new survey.

More than a third of people - mainly males - believe girls trying to chat up men are partially or totally responsible for being attacked.

A quarter reckon a woman wearing a provocative outfit is at least partly to blame - especially if she has been drinking.

One in 12 thinks she is a natural target if she has had a number of sexual partners.

And a third believe she is responsible to some degree if she has clearly failed to say No.

The disturbing attitudes towards rape and rape victims were uncovered by Amnesty International in a national survey to promote its Stop Violence Against Women campaign.

The poll of 1,000 adults found 30 per cent considered a woman partially or totally responsible for being raped if she was drunk.

Horrified by the results, Amnesty is now calling for a new Government strategy to combat sexual and physical violence against women.

Spokeswoman Kate Allen said: "The poll shows a shocking proportion of the public blame women for being raped.

"The Government must launch a new drive to counteract this sexist culture."

Ms Allen added: "The poll highlights public ignorance of the problem as well as the dreadfully low conviction rates.

"It is clear the Government's policies on tackling rape are failing and failing badly.

"These findings should act as a wake-up call to urgently tackle the high incidence of rape and a sexist blame culture."

Up to 80,000 women are raped in the UK each year - and the figure is said to be rising.

Sheila Coates, of the South Essex Rape and Incest Crisis Centre, said: "The survey shows people don't realise just how common rape is.

"And there is little understanding of just how many people rape crisis groups actually support.

"Groups like ours are picking up and ever increasing number of helpline calls and waiting lists are growing."

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. Nobody asks to be raped." Amnesty is also conducting local polls on rape awareness - and has won the support of the TUC, which is backing a review of Government policy. Recent changes in the law mean a man accused of rape must prove that he took reasonable steps to ensure his alleged victim consented.

The Home Office says it is determined to increase successful prosecutions.

A 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.

"We are determined to close the gap between the increasing number of cases reported and the low number of convictions."

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CAMPAIGN: Kate Allen; ORDEAL: Sex crime victim
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 21, 2005
Words:533
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