Prosecuted for being Raped!

Victim Blaming is International

Prosecuted for being Raped!

A 19 year old British woman has been found guilty of causing public mischief in Cyprus for alleging she was gang-raped by 12 Israeli youths aged between 15 and 18 in a hotel in Ayia Napa, Cyprus. The woman had claimed that on 17 July she was attacked and raped but 10 days later the police arrested her after she retracted her statement. This was all done without the woman having been allowed any legal representation and she was coerced into making the statement, she didn’t even have a translator and was suffering from PTSD.

Her lawyer says that she was interrogated for seven hours before she retracted her statement as she wanted to be allowed to go home. During her trial, the woman said that she was raped but the Cypriot police had pressured her into changing her statement. The woman’s story is that she had consented to sex with one of the men and whilst they were together in the hotel room the others entered the room and she was then held down and raped.

The Cypriot Judge decided that the woman had made up the story as she was “ashamed” because the youths were filming her having sex on their mobile phones. However, the youths were all allowed to return home and none of them were in court to give evidence.

The woman was granted bail after a month in prison but her passport has been retained and she cannot leave Cyprus. She will be sentenced on 7th January and she could face a sentence of up to a year in prison.

Ayia Napa has long held a reputation for being the place for young people to go to party and sex is the only reason they go there. Cyprus seems to have done little to change this despite their protestations that they would.

If a foreign woman takes a holiday to Cyprus and is sexually assaulted, the authorities won’t help; in fact they could be the ones who find themselves being prosecuted because obviously the woman just went to Cyprus for sex, sex and more sex! And to any foreign young man Cyprus is obviously the place to go if you are into raping women.

Whilst this is a high profile case, and the public are rightly angry about the result of the case, they don’t realise that the prosecutions for rape have dropped massively throughout the world. There seems to be an idea that most allegations of rape are false. However, the evidence doesn’t support this myth, research shows that only between 2 and 8% of allegations are false. Most rape cases are dropped not because the victim is lying but because there just isn’t enough evidence to prosecute.

In the United Kingdom, only 1.4% of rapists are prosecuted, a drop of 52% since 2016 even though the number of complaints has risen by 43%. Figures to March 2019 show 58,657 allegations were made in England and Wales but there were only 1,925 were successfully prosecuted. So either more than 55,000 women are lying about being raped or rapists are just being allowed to get away with it.

The problem is actually much more sinister. Women who report being raped are being asked for access to their mobile phones and to their school and medical records. Leaving the victim feeling that she is being investigated and that she is somehow to blame for having been raped rather than her attacker. This is also leading to many victims not reporting their rape as they do not think they will not be believed.

In the US, the estimate is that only 0.7% of reported rapes and attempted rapes actually lead to convictions even though it has been calculated that only a third of rapes are even reported to the police!

The effects of having been raped or sexually assaulted on the victim are severe and long lasting and can affect the victim for the rest of their lives. Victims will suffer from PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) where they will get flashbacks, uncontrollable thoughts, severe anxiety and nightmares. They will suffer from depression and this could lead to suicidal thoughts and attempts. They will feel dissociation and will not be able to focus on their work or studies and will not feel present in everyday situations. They will also find it difficult to trust others, they will feel anger and blames, shock, numbness, helplessness, fear, self-blame and guilt, disorientation and a sense of vulnerability.

In not prosecuting rapists, women are being failed. It seems that rape is not illegal, that women are not worth the time and money for a rape trial. Rapists are told that they can get away with rape, that they won’t suffer any consequences so many of them will go on and attack other women again and the more they get away with it, the more they will feel entitled. It is essential that rapists are prosecuted and punished, it is essential that women are believed and not treated badly by the police and law courts. Women need to feel safe about reporting rape and everybody needs to send out the message that rape is a serious crime and that it will not be tolerated.

Read next: The State
Clare Scanlan

I am passionate about writing! Passionate about animals, especially horses, passionate about women's and children's rights!

See all posts by Clare Scanlan