There has been a spate of media reports about women who make false allegations of rape in recent months, the most recent of which involved a woman from Grimsby who forged letters from the Deputy Prime Minister to try and avoid prosecution.
While conflicting statistics on the scale of the problem are hotly contested on the battleground of gender politics, we should be in no doubt that false allegations happen and are overwhelmingly directed at men by women.
Unfortunately for male victims, there are many people who struggle to believe that any women would lie about being raped. Earlier this year, one male victim of a false allegation told his local newspaper in Sussex, "my girlfriend initially believed it, she didn't think another woman would make it up.”
The impact that a false allegation of rape can have is devastating and at times fatal. Last year a 16 year old boy from Cheshire killed himself after he was falsely accused of raping a girl by an older boy. In a separate case an 18 year old boy from Essex was beaten to death by a gang including a 21 year old woman whose younger sister falsely accused him of rape.
Opposition from the women's movement
In some quarters of the women's movement there is fierce opposition to the "fiction that women lie about rape" notably from the campaign group Women Against Rape who claim that prosecuting women who "cry rape" puts real victims off reporting. The group regularly calls for the money spent prosecuting women who make false allegations to be spent on prosecuting men accused of rape instead.
The official narrative on false rape allegations, from both the Government and the women's sector, is that such cases are very rare. The evidence provided to support this claim is that there were just 35 prosecutions of false allegations of rape during a 17 month period in 2011 to 2012 compared to 5,651 prosecutions for rape. This accounts for just 0.6% of all rape and false rape prosecutions, when women's charities estimate that the actual proportion of false allegations is five times higher at 3% (and men's advocates claim the actual figure is higher still).
What's missing from mainstream conversations about the significantly gendered crime of women making false allegations of rape against men, is any attempt to understand what motivates the women who make such claims. As insideMAN is committed to pioneering conversations about men's experiences, we thought we'd try to kick start a discussion on the issue by asking this question: "why do women cry rape?"
So far we've undertaken a brief review of recent media reports which suggests there are four common reasons why women "cry rape":
1. To hide infidelity
Some false rape allegations are made by women in long-term relationships who have consensual sex with another man and then "cry rape" to cover up their infidelity. Last year, Gaynor Cook, from Northamptonshire was sent to jail 10 years after making a false rape allegation in 2003 to cover up an affair she had with an unidentified taxi driver.
The man was found 8 years later, when he provided a DNA sample for an unrelated and minor offence and put on trial with Cook's support. But when the truth emerged she was charged and convicted.
Other women who appear to have alleged rape to cover up infidelity include the Scottish Ann Summers' rep who was in a relationship, arranged to have sex with another man, "cried rape" and then admitted to police she had made it up; and a pair of friends from Southampton who had a consensual threesome and then "cried rape" because they both had long-term boyfriends.
2. To excuse or cover up promiscuity
Some women who "cry rape" after taking part in consensual sex don't do so because they are in a relationship, but to avoid taking responsibility for "promiscuous" behaviour. One such woman was Welsh mother of four, Emma Jones, who falsely claimed she had been raped because she thought her dad would be angry with her for coming home late. Two different men were arrested and subjected to intimate examinations before Jones' lies were uncovered and she admitted that she had in fact had consensual sex with one of the men.
3. To Get Revenge
Many women who make false allegations of rape appear to be motivated by thoughts of revenge. This was certainly the thinking of Lisha Tait, who "cried rape" when she was snubbed in a nightclub by a former lover in Northern Ireland. She later admitted to the police that she had made the story up "on the basis that the man had given her the cold shoulder".
Another woman whose false rape claims appear to be motivated by revenge is Emily Pike, who "cried rape" after having consensual sex in a Premier Inn in Bristol with a dating partner she met on the internet. The court was told that the man crept away afterwards because Pike didn't resemble her dating profile and she angrily took her revenge by falsely claiming that s raped her. Pike had 15 previous convictions including an earlier false rape claim.
While false rape claims are often made after consensual sex, sometimes women will "cry rape" in cases when there has been no sexual contact. One such woman is Emma Saxon from Sheffield who claimed a man she was dating had raped her on an evening when he had failed to turn up for a liaison with her. It was the second time Saxon had been convicted of making a false allegation of rape.
4. To Garner Sympathy
Another motivating factor for women who "cry rape" is to garner sympathy. One recent example is the case of Rhiannon Brooker, a trainee lawyer from Bristol. Media reports suggest that Brooker falsely claimed her boyfriend repeatedly raped and assaulted her in the hope that she would be excused from taking her Bar exams. Another woman who "cried rape" to garner sympathy was Linsey Attridge from Aberdeen who randomly picked two men off Facebook to accuse in an attempt to win sympathy off her boyfriend, in the hope it would save their relationship.
Tell us what you think
This list is far from exhaustive but provides some insights into the minds of women who make false allegations of rape against men. We're open to hearing other theories, particularly those based on evidence or experience, so if you have something to contribute on this subject then please share your thoughts in the comments section of this article.
---Photo Credit: flickr/familymwr
Article by Glen Poole author of the book Equality For Men
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