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Many of us are unsure about what rape means

AN ‘ALARMING’ number of adults remain unclear about what constitutes rape, a ‘worrying’ report suggests.

The End Violence Against Women Coalition said results from a poll of nearly 4,000 people show why access to justice is ‘beyond the reach of many victims’.

A third of respondents said it would not be rape if there was no sexual violence committed. And 21 per cent of women would not consider an attack rape if the victim had flirted on a date — even if she had not explicitly consented to sex.

The report revealed 24 per cent said non-consensual sex within a long-term relationship was not rape, with over-65s more than twice as likely to dismiss a victim’s claims as those aged 16 to 24.

It also showed a third of men think a woman cannot change her mind once sex has begun.

Rachel Krys, co-director at EVAW, said the YouGov poll of 3,922 people shows ‘confusion and myths about rape are still very common’ and may ‘explain why it’s hard for juries to make decisions if they don’t understand or agree with our laws’.

‘A huge proportion of UK adults, who make up juries in rape trials, are still very unclear about what rape is,’ she added. ‘The #MeToo movement has shone a light on the scale of sexual violence, and more women are seeking justice. Yet as a society we are failing to respond to this call for help.

‘It’s vital that justice for rape victims is prioritised. We also need guaranteed counselling for all rape survivors and practical and legal help if they choose to report to the police.’

Her calls for a review of how police and the courts deal with rape offences comes two months after the crown prosecution service’s Violence Against Women And Girls 2017/18 report showed the number of defendants charged with rape fell 23.1 per year-on-year.

The CPS denied altering rape prosecution advice to boost conviction rates and take ‘weak cases’ out of the system.