The low conviction rate for rape is often highlighted as a cause for concern. The typical response is to call for reform of Irish rape law. Although reform is necessary, this article argues that the low conviction rate for rape is caused not simply by ‘bad’ or inadequate laws but also by ‘bad’ or prejudicial attitudes about rape which persist in Irish society. These attitudes are at odds with the reality of rape and therefore create unrealistic expectations as to what, for example, constitutes a ‘real rape’ or a ‘real victim’. Jurors who are influenced by these attitudes are likely to be unduly sceptical about allegations which do not match their stereotypical perceptions of rape. These prejudicial attitudes are usually referred to as ‘rape myths’. In this article, the most common ‘rape myths’ will be outlined. The effect of rape myth acceptance (RMA) on juror deliberations will then be discussed. It is suggested that non-legal initiatives are necessary to ensure that in future jurors will not be influenced by RMA. The article concludes by recommending the introduction of model jury directions which would tackle the ill-effects of rape myths upon juror deliberations at trial, as well as wider public awareness initiatives to educate the public generally about the reality of rape.
"Bad Laws or Bad Attitudes? Assessing the Impact of Societal Attitudes upon the Conviction Rate for Rape in Ireland,"
Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies:
1, Article 3.
Available at: http://arrow.dit.ie/ijass/vol14/iss1/3