Watching BBC Question Time last night was a depressing experience. Yes, watching BBC Question Time is always a depressing experience, but on this occasion more so than ever, as a significant portion of the show was given over to a question about rape prosecutions.
The context is the high-profile collapse of several rape & sexual offence trials amid apparently systematic failures by limbs of the justice system to properly collect, handle and disclose evidence.
“Given recent revelations about a string of innocent men being accused of rape and almost losing their liberty, is it time to name and shame false accusers?”
I will come on to why this question was profoundly and offensively ill-chosen, but the really dispiriting element to this was the widespread misunderstandings of the nature of sexual assault prosecutions and false allegations among the audience and – with a couple of notable exceptions – the panel, so it seems worthwhile to revisit a few of the problems with the myths and the discourse. [Read more…]