Arrest Rate for Rape Unchanged since late 1970′s – this is an Unfinished Revolution

[Leslie Carol Botha: According to Sarah Tofte, author of  The Unfinished Revolution: Voices from the Global Fight for Women's Right's...too many rape cases in this country don’t just remain unresolved—they remain uninvestigated.']This is one revolution that needs to be won for the sake of women.

A Needed Revolution: Rape and U.S. Justice

The arrest rate for rape—24 percent—has not changed since the late 1970s. In the new Human Rights Watch book The Unfinished Revolution, Sarah Tofte explains why.

The Daily Beast
Women and the World
by Sarah Tofte

The U.S. has struggled to make progress in the way the criminal-justice system addresses violence against women and girls. Only in the last 40 years have laws and systems been put in place to prohibit a victim’s prior sexual activity from being entered into evidence, to eliminate the requirement that there be a corroborating witness to a rape, and to create procedures to collect physical evidence from victims.

Today police and prosecutors are extensively trained in how to move cases forward, and sexual-assault investigative and prosecutorial units are common in most major cities.

Yet despite these reforms, the number of reported rapes that lead to an arrest—much less a conviction—remains intractably small. In 2010 the arrest rate for rape was 24 percent, which was exactly what it was in the late 1970s, when the FBI first began tracking such data. Too many rape cases in this country don’t just remain unresolved—they remain uninvestigated.

Most reported rapes are perpetrated by someone the victim knows, and law enforcement operate on the misguided assumption that these so-called acquaintance-rape cases are too hard to prove or are false reports by victims motivated to harm the accused. Consequently, these “non-stranger” rape cases often languish after they are reported, and, even when they do move forward, law-enforcement officers see no need to test a rape kit in the case, since they already know who the suspect is.

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