Why Rape Cases Should Not Be Subject To Reasonable Doubt

The Establishment
The Establishment
Published in
6 min readDec 31, 2016

--

By Christopher Wareham and James Vos

TW: Rape, sexual assault

Conviction rates for sexual assault against women are shockingly low, to the extent that, even in a developed nation such as the United Kingdom, only 6% of rape allegations result in a conviction, a far lower rate than for any other violent crime. As The Guardian columnist Julia Bindel puts it, “rape might as well be legal.”

Disturbingly low conviction rates have many explanations, but one contributing factor is the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of evidence employed in criminal cases. This standard requires that the jury not have any reasonable doubts about the defendant’s guilt in order to convict. Doubts they have that are frivolous or hypothetical should be put aside.

Unfortunately, this standard contributes to a low conviction rate in cases of sexual assault, which is often physically indistinguishable from consensual sex. This means that a verdict can hinge solely on testimony. When two people tell stories convincingly, each story casts some reasonable doubt on the other.

The standard is also incorrectly applied due to the prevalence of rape myths­ — prejudicial, stereotyped or false beliefs about rape, rape victims and rape perpetrators. These myths involve blaming the…

--

--

The Establishment
The Establishment

The conversation is much more interesting when everyone has a voice. Media funded & run by women; new content daily.