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(In)credible Words of Women: False Allegations in European Rape Research

NCJ Number
Violence Against Women Volume: 16 Issue: 12 Dated: December 2010 Pages: 1345-1355
Liz Kelly
Date Published
December 2010
11 pages
This article examines two European studies on false allegations in rape cases.
The issue of false allegations in rape cases cannot be understood without reference to the ways in which rape law and its interpretation has historically problematized "the words of a woman" when what they were speaking about was sexual violation. While the letter of the law has been reformed in many countries, legacies remain sedimented into institutional cultures and practices, creating a risk of over-identification of false allegations by police and prosecutors. Findings from two European studies on attrition in reported rape cases are drawn on to highlight both the mechanisms and processes which create the category of false allegations, especially the opaque "no crime/unfounded" designations and that CJS personnel believe the rates to be considerably higher than their own data. The article concludes by raising the possibility of internationally agreed standards for designating a rape report "false." (Published Abstract)