These tales of interpersonal and institutional misogyny and corruption are almost too chilling for words, but I will try.
Last November, a Welsh woman phoned police and reported being raped six times by her husband. Her husband was charged with rape, but as the case proceeded, the woman said she wanted to drop the charges (though she maintained they were true). Her husband and his family had pursued the woman and persuaded her to do so because he could face a long jail sentence if convicted of rape, while she would get only a few months if convicted of falsifying a rape allegation. She told authorities her initial claim was untrue.
But when she learned she could actually face two years in jail for making a false rape claim, the woman reversed her position again, admitting that the rapes had actually happened. Officers arrested her and charged her with perverting the course of justice. She is sentenced to eight months in prison for “falsely retracting” a rape allegation.
The courts are punishing the woman for being a victim of coercion (and rape, natch). She was incredibly brave to come forward about the abuse in the first place. But the system showed her! Her legal representatives are preparing an appeal and are applying for her to be released on bail from Styal prison, where she is being held pending the appeal.
Charges should be filed against the people who “perverted the course of justice” by pressuring a victim to sacrifice herself for her rapist. It would be nice if this ordeal would be a wake-up call that abusers manipulate their victims long after the initial abuse, and that retracting a statement or dropping charges is not the same as admitting to a lie. But I’m not holding my breath.
In other news, please add “Don’t trust police” to your “Rape Prevention Tips” list. If you haven’t already. /sarcasm
In South Carolina, another victim was coerced to retract her rape claim–this time by police officers. The accused rapist is another cop in the same department. A woman in Marion was in a car accident in September. Soon afterward, officer Tyrone Reed showed up at her home. Believing he was there in reference to the crash, the woman let him inside, where he raped her.
After the woman’s boyfriend reported the attack to police, the intimidation campaign began. Officers showed up at her home and allegedly improperly seized evidence. They told her “When [state law enforcement] comes in and they find anything wrong with your story, they are taking you to prison. You’re going to prison for five years.” They said, “Your story is all over the place. We talked to our officer and his story sounds consistent. You don’t look like a rape victim” because she wasn’t “balled up in a corner, shivering.” When she went to the hospital, the woman was denied the customary sexual assault victims’ advocate.
The woman said she was coerced to sign a statement reading: “Though I didn’t agree or consent to it (it) was not rape.” Sounds like someone on the force had a guilty conscience. Tyrone Reed has been suspended pending an investigation but has not (yet) been charged with a crime. The other officers involved have not been suspended. The Women’s Rights blog on Change.org has started a petition to convince the Marion Police Department to investigate their actions towards the women. I feel like signing it is so insignificant in the scheme of things but it’s the least I can do. Please sign it if you are so inclined.