Cyprus rape case: the UK justice system is just as bad, says rape survivors

7 January 2020, 15:10 | Updated: 7 January 2020, 17:32

Society blames rape victims even though "you don't blame someone who's mugged in the street for carrying a mobile phone," said rape survivor and Women's Party spokesperson.

This is in response to the Cyprus rape case where a 19-year-old British woman found guilty by a court in Cyprus of lying about being gang-raped.

The way the victim was treated in the Cyprus rape case "absolutely does" happen here, said campaigner Lucy Nevitt.

"There have been cases in the UK where the CPS has charged women who have reported rapes for lying and they've been imprisoned wrongly, and it has turned out that was all false and they were telling the truth the whole time, and then they were dropped," said Ms Nevitt, "so it's not an isolated case at all."

Jenn Selby of the Women's Party agreed: "We need a massive review in to the way that rape cases are prosecuted. We obviously are in a situation right now where prosecution rates are at an all time low as well.

"In this particular case she did everything we ask of survivors, she reported her case, she gave evidence to the police, she went through that horrific medical exam that you have to go through when you're going these situations - completely retraumatising - and this is what she got for it.

"It's not something that just happens in Cyprus, it happens here."

LBC's Shelagh Fogarty asked if there was a sense of discouraging victims to report.

The 19-year-old cannot be named for legal reasons
Cyprus rape case: The 19-year-old cannot be named for legal reasons. Picture: PA

"Absolutely," said Ms Nevitt, "for the most part when we report we're met with suspicion instead of support. We have this idea when criminals go through the justice system, they are suspected innocent until proven guilty, but with victims that's not the case. We are investigated a lot more than the rapist."

She shared that when she reported her assault the police asked her for her school records despite being 20 years old.

Ms Selby said society blames rape victims in a way that happens with no other crime; "you don't blame someone who's mugged in the street for carrying a mobile phone."

"We have a special and very shameful way of blaming women for what is one of the worst things that can ever happen to you, and I can say that from experience. Something that you can't get rid of."

Shelagh asked if either Ms Nevitt of the Gemini Project or Jenn Selby of the Women's Party had ever got justice.

"No," they both said.

"The conviction rates in this country right now are between 1.4 and 1.8% so 55,000 women a year are being failed," said Ms Nevitt, "we report; we're told that's the right thing to do when these things happen and we're met with suspicion, our cases are dropped, they're not investigated.

"That is the reality for so many people. I know at least five women, friends, they all reported - none of them got justice."

Ms Selby said, "Men in this country are raping and getting away with it, and if our government really wants to show that it cares about women, it needs to put its money where its mouth is."