Looking at the headline from the Guardian, you would be forgiven for thinking the government was actually addressing the woefully low conviction rate for rape. Actually the bill has been watered down ofer and over again. Here's what we're (possibly) getting:
1) Expert witnesses allowed to explain in general terms about rape victims and their common behaviour patterns.
2) An automatic right to use the alleged victim's videotaped interview with the police in place of her main evidence at the trial.
3) Allowing the jury to be told of any occasions when the woman confided in someone else about the rape .
Now (1) might do minimal good if the right well-trained experts are called as witnesses, in practice it'll probably just start up a market for phoney "expert" witnesses. What's the better the rape "experts" will be guys? (2) is presumably intended to deal with victims who later retract their accusations, a problem which would arise much less if victims were believed and given support. (3) Is actually not a law change, that already stands as of a ruling last year.
Maybe we shouldn't be ungrateful but it's way short of what is really needed to address the situation:
1) Specialist rape trauma centres in all decent-sized policce stations nationwide, staffed by women out of uniform who have had extensive training in dealing with that and equipped with medical equipment necessary for preparing physical evidence.
2) A major advertising campaign to let people know these centres have been set up.
3) Training in dealing with rape reports and sensitive referral where appropriate for all police.
4) Clarification of the existing law that says the defence need to prove consent and NOT vice versa. Judges who counsel otherwise should be thrown out.
5) Jurors should be screened and rejected if they believe that women can be responsible for their own rapes if they dress provocatively/flirt/engage in preliminary sexual behaviour/carry condoms/have a history of promiscuity/get drunk.
6) Jurors receive training explaining that none of those things affect whether or not a rape can have taken place. Judges who do not back up this message are thrown out.
7) A public information campaign that emphasises how rare false accusations of rape are, that reminds men that it is their responsibility to ensure they have consent and that a big new clampdown is underway.
Instead there is much moaning that there should be a level of intoxication beyond which it is assumed consent cannot be given. This might solve a few cases but for me it would be a weird rule to have and would probably lead to the "she wasn't drunk so i can't have raped her" defence proliferating.
What does anyone else think?