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Betrayed by sexist system

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Issue 2686
Protesters outside the Cypriot embassy in London
Protesters outside the Cypriot embassy in London (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The sexist treatment carried out by the police and justice systems toward women alleging rape was highlighted in a recent horrifying case in Cyprus.

This week a young British woman was sentenced to four months in prison, suspended for three years, after being convicted of lying about being gang raped. Her appeal is likely to take several years.

It’s just one example of how women are treated like criminals rather than victims when they go to the police with rape and sexual assault allegations. The specifics of the Cyprus case are horrific. The woman spent a month in jail after retracting her allegations of rape by 12 Israeli tourists.

She said the police subjected her to quickfire questioning and aggressive behaviour and denied her access to a lawyer.

She also says they coerced a retraction of her rape statement ten days after the crime was alleged to take place.

This kind of treatment isn’t unique to Cyprus. In England and Wales, rape charges, prosecutions and convictions have fallen to their lowest levels in more than a decade.

This drop is despite the number of rapes recorded by the police more than doubling between 2012 and 2018.

Police are referring fewer cases to the Crown Prosecution Service, which is then choosing to charge fewer perpetrators.

Although horrific, the Cyprus case isn’t unusual. Such outrages are part of a judicial system that fails victims every day.

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