A female judge says women have to stop ‘getting so drunk’ in order for the rape conviction rate to improve.
In an interview with the Oxford Mail newspaper, Judge Mary Mowat, 66, said: “I’m probably going to be pilloried for saying so but the rape conviction statistics will not improve until women stop getting so drunk.”
“It is an inevitable fact of it being one person’s word against another and the burden of proof being that you have to be sure before you convict,” she said, as reported by The Mirror.
“I’m not saying it’s right to rape a drunken woman, I’m not saying for a moment that it’s allowable to take advantage of a drunken woman,” Judge Mowat said.
The judge also said she had presided over rape trials “where the victim had been so drunk she couldn’t remember what had happened” — and that juries faced an impossible task when a case came down to one person’s word against another.
“(A) jury in a position where they’ve got a woman who says ‘I was absolutely off my head, I can’t really remember what I was doing, I can’t remember what I said, I can’t remember if I consented or not but I know I wouldn’t have done’… I mean, when a jury is faced with something like that, how are they supposed to react?”
The controversial comments were given as Judge Mowat retired after 18 years sitting as a circuit judge in Oxford – where only 24 per cent of rape trials result in conviction – the Daily Mail reports.
The remarks have been criticised as victim-blaming by some women’s rights activists, with Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre service manager Natalie Brook telling The Daily Mail the comments were “outrageous, misguided and frankly dangerous”.
“Rape convictions will improve when those who perpetrate it, who are disproportionately male, stop raping,” she said.
Brook told The Huffington Post that “only 15 per cent of those who experience rape will report to the police…. With victim-blaming attitudes like those displayed by Judge Mowat it is no surprise that conviction rates remain so low.”
Katie Russell, from Rape Crisis England, described the judge’s comments as “potentially very harmful”.
“(T)he legal responsibility is on the defendant to evidence how they sought and received that consent, not on the survivor to recall every detail of events,” Russell said, as reported by The Daily Telegraph.
What do you think of the judge’s comments? Were they appropriate or harmful?