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Women against Rape call to sign petition, write to local press and MP

Please help us to increase the mounting pressure on the government and the criminal justice agencies over their unacceptable response to rape, and their refusal to hold accountable their employees who are acting as “collaborators” with rapists.
There are four items below: please sign the petition, read the articles about police refusal to investigate, add your online comments to the press articles below, and/or write to your local press, your MP, and others, and please send us a copy. We look forward to hearing from you.
1.
Petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/WAR08/petition.html
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2.
This article appeared in The Guardian, Wed 12 March 2008 on p39 of the Leaders & reply section
Police failings in rape cases are far worse than they admit
Women victims often still experience the inefficiency, neglect and hostility of officers, says Ruth Hall John Yates, the Metropolitan police's assistant commissioner, has finally admitted what rape survivors have said for years: that "police are contributing to the 'appalling' conviction rate in rape cases because officers too often fail to take alleged victims seriously enough and settle for mediocrity in their inquiries" (Rape cases: police admit failing victims, March 4).


Two weeks ago Women Against Rape (WAR) held a public trial - The rape of justice: Who's Guilty? - at which 30 women testified. Among them were the mother of a teenage victim, women raped as children, sex workers, a police employee raped by a colleague, and others whose attacks were recorded as "no crime". What emerged was a catalogue of police inefficiency, neglect and hostility: women not believed, evidence - including DNA - lost or uncollected, the investigation of pimps and mobile phone records considered "too expensive".
In case after case, the women testified, the Crown Prosecution Service had been ill-prepared, inefficient, indifferent or downright unwilling. The result: violent men are free to attack again.
As late as February 15 Yates, the spokesman on rape for the Association of Chief Police Officers, was still dismissing such refusals of justice as "isolated" (on the Radio 4 Today programme). Now, you report, he refers to a "proper professional caring service ... available in some parts of the country". Where? Some of the worst recent complaints are about London's flagship Sapphire Units, the rape "specialists".
As addiction specialists say, the first step is admitting you have a problem: a step we have yet to see from the CPS. The solicitor general, Vera Baird, has only admitted to CPS problems "in the past". Now for the second step. Yates says: "There doesn't have to be such an appalling conviction rate. We can do something about it." He suggests that "every area could be encouraged to provide the basic necessities: to do all the medical tests..."
"Could be encouraged"? The sexism in the police is entrenched. If, as Yates says, forces are "suddenly 'getting it'", it is time to move aside those officers at every rank who are, in the words of New York prosecutor Alice Vachss, "collaborators" with rapists. A petition organised by WAR says: "Police officers, prosecutors and judges who have shown themselves to be sexist, racist, or otherwise prejudiced against victims of sexual violence, or negligent and incompetent in the prosecution of rape cases, should be publicly disciplined, moved off rape cases, or sacked." They are paid to enforce the law but instead protect rapists. Why is this acceptable to the government?
Many men who get away with rape and domestic violence - Ian Huntley, Anthony Hardy, Levi Bellfield, Pierre Williams - go on to kill women and children. Unpublished police research shows how often attackers with a record of sexual violence are let go. (When will this be made public?) Two women a week are killed by partners or ex-partners. John Yates says we should not have to wait for a "tragic case" before change happens. But this tragedy has already happened, repeatedly.


• Ruth Hall is a spokeswoman for Women Against Rape war@womenagainstrape.net
This article is at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/mar/12/ukcrime.gender
responding to: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/mar/04/ukcrime.law
There are further comments in response to John Yates, including one by Solicitor General Vera Baird, on Comment is Free: 

http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/vera_baird/2008/03/reversing_the_vicious_circle.html . See particularly good comment by NoraDoll, 8 March.
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3.
WAR’s Open letter to Vera Baird, Solicitor General, in The Times online:

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article3350956.ece
And her response: http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article3405450.ece
Please note that she does not respond at all to our central point about holding to account police officers, prosecutors, and judges.
There is still space for comments.
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4.
Report of our 16 February Public Trial, The rape of justice, Who’s guilty?

http://www.womenagainstrape.net/Trial/Morning%20Star%20Report.htm There was also extensive coverage on radio and TV.

http://tampabaylawyers.com

The media has a big role in defending and protecting our women against abusive acts. Let us all work together and fight this crime.

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