Another plea to the Daily Mail

Friday, 25 June 2010

Alison Clarke is making a plea to the Daily Mail to stop featuring stories about false rape claims.
So, this is a plea to the Mail. Yes, we know that women make up stories about sexual assault. But - and please note this - they are very few and far between.

The fact is that at least 50,000 women are raped every year in the UK, but only a tiny percentage result in convictions of the rapist.
She's not the only one.

A while back I wrote about the way that papers like the Mail report rape cases - nearly every time it will be case where 'an innocent man's life has been ruined' or 'a woman made sickening claims in a revenge attack on her ex' or some such tale. I'm not saying these cases aren't true. I'm not saying that false accusations aren't made. But that fact is they are FAR outweighed by actual rapes and assaults. Of course you wouldn't know this, because the Mail only reports rape cases when the attack has happened to a beautiful, young, virginal, middle class white woman.

Ever since I wrote that post I've been noticing that 'cry rape' stories have been appearing with a terrifying frequency on the Mail's website. Every day it seems like someone is tweeting about another one and despairing at the way that a national newspaper (although I'm not sure its content warrants the 'news' part any more) is creating a picture of a society where 99% of rape accusations are made by evil and vicious liars. And the more the tabloids report rape cases in this way, the more society will believe it applies to the majority of incidents.

I'm not going to lie, it's getting depressing. It's getting beyond a joke. It's no longer just the odd story; it's absolutely relentless (presumably these stories are becoming more frequent as the furore surrounding possible anonymity for rape defendants intensifies).

The question is, what can be done? I've been taking part in a couple of discussions about possible action but find myself wondering what I, personally, could do as I'm not affiliated to any particular group of organisation. There are so many of us who feel the same but it's hard to know where to go next. Any ideas would be welcomed at this point. It's difficult to imagine the paper ever changing its outlook but the way it's going about things is sending out an unpleasant message and we all know the power it has. Whether we like it or not, people believe what they read.

Please discuss via comments! In addition I am talking about it a lot on Twitter at the moment so feel free to tweet opinions and ideas @boudledidge.


Molesworth said...

The best way to confront this myth is with the power of facts. The problem is - as the Stern Review said - much of the research that has been done is unreliable. That's why Baroness Stern recommended that research be commissioned so that we can once and for all put this myth to bed. What I find terrifying is that we have a government using Daily Mail myths of false rape reporting as the basis for policy. So rather than target the Mail, I think it is more effective to target the politicians who are proposing to change policy on the basis of the claim that "many allegations of rape are false" (which is what David Cameron said during PMQs a couple of weeks ago).

Write to him, to Ken Clarke, Crispin Blunt, Theresa May and Lynne Featherstone to complain about this misrepresentation of reality which is being bandied about as justification for changing the law and in so doing propagate this awful damaging myth!

Hannah Mudge said...

This is a really good point and one I will be looking into! As you say, it's terrifying.

Anonymous said...

I feel so frustrated (and sometimes ashamed) because I am definitely one of those people that outrages and quietly despairs everytime I see another story, but feel like I do nothing to actually make a difference.

The fact is, that SUCH a higher proprtion of rape claims are legitimate - yet they get no coverage and instead there is this disgusting fascination with covering alledgedly false claims.

It's a topic extremely close to my heart so if you do gage any information on practical things we can do - please do count me in!

德倫 said...


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Pamela Myers said...

I personally hate tabloids, I don't want to call them newspapers, no matter what they are writing about. They are so sensational with articles full of subjective opinions disguised as fact. They cover stories to scare monger and incite anger in people. They are very misleading.

Sadly, I feel that they have a huge influence on they way people think. In general I think more awareness should be raised that these papers are not a true portrayal of society. I would like them to come with a sort of warning, like cigarettes, although many would find that extreme.


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