Rape - Who's to blame when a fabricated account of a rape trial is published in a newspaper?
Posted on: Friday 14th October 2011
From Rape Crisis Scotland 14, Ocotber 2011.
Scottish newspapers can be very powerful allies to campaigners against sexual violence. With audiences numbering millions daily, and an online archive available in perpetuity for later consultation, the accounts and opinions printed within their pages exert enormous influence in shaping public attitudes on every issue.
And there can be few people who need support and for the truth to be told about their experiences more than rape complainers. Myths and prejudices that blame them for what happened and advance the notion that women frequently lie about having been raped are prevalent and extremely damaging both to their recovery from rape and to their chances of obtaining justice. The Evening Times and many other titles frequently publish accounts of sexual violence, and the difficulties survivors face after rape. These can sometimes really help to raise awareness and challenge the myths and misconceptions that survivors continue to face. A recent article in the Evening Times looked at first glance to be just such a piece, with a graphic account of a young woman’s assault and subsequent barbaric treatment at the hands of the legal system laid out in shocking detail. Subsequently, however, serious doubt has been attached to the veracity of this story, and the Evening Times today offered a “clarification” for the benefit of readers.
In this clarification, the Evening Times apologies not for printing a fabricated account but for their failure to subject a woman’s “claims” of rape to “normal scrutiny or checks”. However this story came about – and its origins are very unclear – the Evening Times has perpetuated the myth that women can’t be trusted when they speak out about being raped. And that’s the last thing anyone interested in justice for rape survivors needs.