News In Focus
Rape "myths" campaign precedes new jury directions law
A new campaign to tackle myths around rape has received funding from the Scottish Government, ahead of legal changes regarding information to be given to juries in rape trials.
Rape Crisis Scotland has been given £30,000 to challenge common misconceptions about the ways people can respond during and after sexual assault. The campaign will include two short animated films dealing with widely-held perceptions.
Under changes in the law which come into force later this year, judges will give special information to juries when there is evidence of:
- any delay in the victim reporting the offence;
- a victim not putting up physical resistance to assault; or
- a perpetrator not using physical force in carrying out assault.
Rape Crisis Scotland coordinator Sandy Brindley explained: “Many survivors tell us that during a rape they froze and were unable to fight back or scream. This is a natural and common reaction, but not one that members of the public will necessarily be aware of.
She added: “We also welcome the introduction of jury directions in rape cases as a significant step forward. Providing jury members with factual information on reactions to rape should help to ensure that verdicts in sexual offence cases are based on the evidence presented, rather than being influenced by assumptions about how rape victims will react.”
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson commented: “At a time when victims of sexual offences have increasing confidence in reporting to the police, this new statutory requirement for judges to give jury directions in certain sexual offence cases will make a real difference in ensuring juries approach court evidence in an informed and balanced way."
- Ministers have also highlighted the coming into force from 1 April of the new law against "revenge porn". A public awareness campaign will support the new provisions, which are directed against the sharing of intimate filmed or still images of another person without their consent. Mr Matheson observed: “We know legislation alone is not enough to tackle abusive behaviour and sexual violence. That is why we are taking forward a whole range of work in our drive to eliminate it in all its forms from Scottish society.”