Saturday, January 17, 2009

False rape accusers should not be punished, and women are the real victims of false claims

False rape accusers should not be punished, and women are the real victims of false claims
2009-01-14 at 4:40 pm
A 17-year-old New Zealand girl was arrested this week after falsely claiming that she was dragged off by three youths and sexually assaulted at knifepoint, The Rotorua Daily Post reported. (“Calls for help, not charges,” January 8, 2009.) The news report explained that this was the second alleged false sexual assault claim local police have dealt with since November.
The article quotes Dr. Kim McGregor, director of New Zealand’s Rape Prevention Education, who spoke about false rape complainants: “I would recommend some form of therapeutic intervention rather than charging them.” Dr. McGregor claims that “someone needed to be ‘pretty distressed’ to make a false allegation of sexual assault,” and that “very few women made false complaints as a form of revenge.” This claim runs counter to Professor Eugene Kanin’s landmark study of rape claims in a mid-size Midwestern city over the course of nine years, in which he found that 27% of the false rape claims were motivated by revenge.
Dr. McGregor also notes that “international research showed 2-3 per cent of all sexual abuse allegations made were false.” This claim, of course, is contradicted by every serious study of false rape claims ever conducted. They all put the percentage much higher
The news report also quotes Louise Nicholas, a local sexual abuse educator and former rape complainant, who notes that “it didn't help sexual abuse victims making legitimate complaints, particularly those who feared not being believed.” Ms. Nicholas also suggests that “there could be underlying issues surrounding the false complaints which needed to be resolved,” and that “there needed to be more services available to help women who had been sexually assaulted as the current services were stretched.”
This news account is sadly typical of how mainstream news media treat the crime of false reporting of rape. News reports generally blink at the harm to innocent men and boys often caused by false reporting of rape. They rarely discuss the fact that false rape victims have been killed, beaten, spat upon, fired from their jobs, jailed, and raped while in jail, or that they have lost their wives, their girlfriends, their businesses, and their sanity, or that some have even killed themselves.

 It is commonplace for reporters to obtain information about this crime from sexual assault counselors who, instead of talking about false rape claims, often – as Ms. Nicholas did – change the subject and talk instead about rape, an entirely different crime that, in these cases, was not committed.
Relying on unsupported or demonstrably erroneous information, these counselors routinely insist – as Dr. McGregor did – that false rape reports are not a serious threat to men. The only threat posed by this crime, they often say, is to (hypothetical) victims of rape who, because of the falsehood, may be deterred from coming forward. They do not mention the threat, just proved imminent, to (real) victims of false rape accusations, men and boys whose lives are often destroyed by these lies. Some counselors go so far as to suggest that false rape accusers are not criminals at all.
In this report, Dr. McGregor suggests it is inappropriate to punish false accusers. The reporter does not bother to challenge Dr. McGregor’s startling assertion that crimes capable of destroying innocent lives should routinely go unpunished, nor does she ask how other false accusers could be deterred from similar misconduct.
In the end, this report leaves many questions unanswered. Chief among them: would Dr. McGregor support not punishing a young rapist who’d committed his crime because he was “pretty distressed”? And: if there are no criminal sanctions for their wrongdoing, what’s to stop women from falsely accusing men with impunity?

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