You might prefer to view this website through ‘incognito mode’, which will not record your browsing history or save cookies that show that you’ve visited this website.

Resources

The injustice of justice: female sexual violence victims and the fear of coming forward by Imogen Cheatham

The injustice of justice: female sexual violence victims and the fear of coming forward by Imogen Cheatham

This dissertation and research written by Imogen Cheatham examines why acts of sexual violence continue to be under-reported as a crime, finding that perhaps the most significant reasons why women and girls do not report sexual violence is caused by rape myths, stereotypes and victim blaming narratives that are not only pervasive in society, but also within the police, crown prosecution service, in court, and in criminal justice outcomes. This research and its findings can be a foundation and impetus to find victim-focused solutions to the issue of under-reporting that no longer perpetuate the victim blaming entrenched within society and institutionalised within the criminal justice system itself. 

The injustice of justice: female sexual violence victims and the fear of coming forward By Imogen Cheatham (2019)

Abstract

The United Kingdom has dangerously low reporting rates of sexual violence committed against women and girls, meaning that there are a worrying number of sexual offenders and rapists that are not being brought to justice and so are free to reoffend and continue to inflict this suffering and trauma. This research examines why acts of sexual violence continue to be underreported as a crime by women and girls subjected to this abuse in the UK. In doing so, this study analyses qualitative data from existing literature and semi-structured interviews conducted with professionals in the field of sexual violence and does so using an intersectional feminist framework. Conclusions drawn from a review of the literature were corroborated by interview responses, finding that perhaps the most significant reasons why women and girls do not report sexual violence as a crime in the UK can be categorised as the fear of not being believed, fear of judgements based on rape myths, stereotypes and victim blaming narratives in society, as well as fearing elements of the reporting process such as going to court. Analysis of the primary data also enabled the discovery that these aforementioned causal factors apply not only to society and social responses but to the institutions within the reporting process itself: the police, crown prosecution service, in court, and in criminal justice outcomes. The victim blaming attitudes that cause women and girls subjected to sexual violence to feel as though they are not believed or judged also pervade the institutional mechanisms of the criminal justice system, which often fails to provide justice for these women and girls. Evidence detailed in this study suggests that this is the appalling reality and lived experience for many women and girls who do report sexual violence as a crime in the UK. As such, this research and its findings can be a foundation and impetus to find victim-focused solutions to the issue of underreporting that no longer perpetuate the victim blaming entrenched within society and institutionalised within the criminal justice system itself.

Dedication

To all the women and girls who have been subjected to sexual violence, contending with a society that tries to blame you, and a criminal justice system that fails to bring you justice or treat you with the dignity and unconditional support you deserve.

Nobody deserves any form of sexual violence and nobody contributes to their rape.  Let us celebrate those who have the courage and the strength to speak out. Let us empower women to know on a fundamental level that her body is hers, it is not a sexual object to be abused by men without her consent and her life and justice should be protected and valued over that of a sexual offender.

I dedicate this sentiment to you ~

“when you have experienced trauma it can be like tempering steel in a fire, you come out the other end and you’ve had to look at yourself in great detail, you’ve had to examine your inner motives and your inner strengths and you come through it in a stronger more resilient way. Some people struggle to ever get to that point and that’s why the ones that do speak out are fantastic because not everybody can.”  ~ Fay Maxted, OBE

Content Warning

**This research discusses sexual violence (rape, assault, and abuse), reporting sexual violence, and stages of the criminal justice process for sexual violence cases. Within this, concepts of blame, experiences of victim-blaming and self-blame, as well as rape myth narratives. Whilst there is no graphic imagery or graphic descriptions of sexual violence, rape, or abuse, there are clear conversations around sexual violence, rape, and abuse that some may find triggering.

To read the full dissertation, please click here.

UOS