Investigations into violence and sexual abuse cases in the UK show that there are many differences in how the criminal justice system treats victims. The UK judicial system has so far shown that it does not have a strong will to fight violence and rape cases against women.
Defects in the UK Judicial System in Dealing with Rape Cases
A report on rape was published recently, provoking many reactions and prompting an apology by the government to the victims. It pointed to the widespread flaws in the criminal justice system in dealing with rape cases in the country, leading to its decriminalisation. The question remains now of whether the apology will make a significant difference to the many victims in black and ethnic minorities who have faced rape, sexual abuse and discriminatory attitudes?
Discrimination in the UK Judicial System in Dealing with Rape Cases
Through research from victims and organisations active in this field, it can be seen that there are many differences in the way the British criminal justice system treats victims of rape. Black women and ethnic minorities in the UK are more likely to be found guilty or complicit in rape. These people are less likely to be considered victims of sexual violence by the UK criminal justice system. Because of this mistreatment, blacks, ethnic minorities, and people with disabilities are less likely to report sexual crimes to the police.
Research shows that if the perpetrator of sexual violence in the UK is white and the victim is black or from an ethnic minority, the case will be 11 times more likely to be identified as non-criminal.
Disappointment with the Judicial System Reason for Not Reporting Rape
A survey of nearly 500 survivors of rape, undertaken by the Victims’ Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC, has highlighted that just 14% believed they would get justice by reporting the crime to the police. Most of these people stated that they think no one will believe them. Many of these victims highlighted their past experiences with racism, sexism, or prejudice as important factors influencing their decision not to report. Immigrant women often fear the consequences of asking for help to deal with rape because of the hostile atmosphere in the UK criminal justice system and the risk of detention. Even if their cases are processed, further investigation will be carried out on them.
Non-Imprisonment of Sex Offenders After Conviction
Officials in the UK are facing demands to explain why thousands of convicted sex offenders have not been jailed across England and Wales. Research shows that adults in the UK who have been convicted of sexually abusing children under the age of 13 or have been convicted of having sex with minors are among those who have not been imprisoned. Analyses also show that, between 2013 and 2020, only suspended sentences or social punishments were issued for 14,530 adults out of a total of 44,721 convicted of sexual offenses. This means almost one in three people. Only a little over 60% of these offenders were immediately sent to prison, and the rest were punished by other means, including fines.
Lack of Serious Government Action Despite Worrying Rape Statistics
Jess Phillips, the shadow domestic violence and safeguarding minister, said:
“The violence that women and girls face is endemic, and no matter how much the government wants to paint a picture of it being a rare crime, the figures tell a different story.”
Sexual harassment in British schools and an unprecedented number of rapes show that the government should take action instead of just apologising. The revelations came at a time when the British government has come under pressure from public opinion and organisations working to reduce rape trials.
Suspended Sentences or Social Punishment for Sex Offenders Instead of Imprisonment
The British judicial system has failed to imprison one-third of convicted sexual offenders, including child predators, in England and Wales over the past seven years. A report has found that 14,530 of the 44,721 convicted adult sex offenders avoided prison time, receiving instead merely suspended or community sentences, between 2013 and 2020. The investigation carried out by the Observer found that just over 60% of convicted sex offenders were immediately imprisoned, while the rest were given a slap-on-the-wrist treatment, such as fines or conditional discharges.
The report went on to claim that some of those who escaped jail time included people convicted of sexual assaults against children under the age of 13 and those who engaged in sexual activity with underage teens.
British Police Officers Suspected of Abusing Women
This is the sign of a plagued culture that allows many crimes, including thousands of rapes, to go unpunished. A report shows that hundreds of British police officers, the same people whom the British people are supposed to turn to for safety, have been accused of abusing women.
The British police response to such allegations is that there will always be a few bad cases in all wards. Some time ago, a police officer was charged with kidnapping and raping a woman named Sarah Everard. There is no doubt that the young woman’s disappearance in South London in March has greatly spread fear among women in UK.
The Judiciary is Incapable of Handling Charges Against Police Officers
High levels of sexual harassment in schools, workplaces and public places in the UK mean that women are angry about the precautions they need to take. This is while the criminal justice system seems to be clearly failing to deal with criminals. Women domestically abused by police officers feel “doubly powerless” as their abusers are too often protected from facing justice, campaigners say. The Centre For Women’s Justice (CWJ) has submitted a super-complaint claiming failures among the police force. They cite the cases of 19 women, including police officers, from 15 force areas who have been victims of abuse, violence, stalking and rape. The report says that women have difficulty reporting cases related to their abusive husbands.
The report also states that the accused officers use their position and communication to prevent investigations into the abuse of women and, therefore, poor decisions are made about the charges against these individuals. Approximately 600 sexual abuse cases were filed against police officers between 2012 and 2018, but only 119 of them were processed. For example, a police officer accused of raping two female colleagues in 2017 was allowed to continue working for three years. The sad reality in the UK is that there are not enough adequate measures to identify and punish police officers who harass women, and on the other hand, the investigation is left to male police officers.
Discrimination and injustice in rape cases in the UK have alarmed many women, because they are unsure whether the UK justice system will prosecute them if they are raped? However, Boris Johnson’s government has not taken any specific action to fight rape, raising concerns about injustices in the British judicial system in such cases.