Rape Crisis Scotland and Police Scotland have launched a high profile media campaign to tackle rape. The latest phase of the #WeCanStopIt rape prevention campaign is aimed at 16-27 year old men – an age group who commit one third of reported rapes in Scotland. Young women in the same age group are also the most vulnerable to attack.
A hard hitting post-watershed TV and viral ad shifts the focus to potential perpetrators and sends out the message that sex without consent is rape. Sandy Brindley, confirming Rape Crisis’ commitment to the campaign said “The law is clear – sex without consent is rape, but we need to do much more to increase public awareness around this issue.” Chief Constable Sir Stephen House echoed this, “Sex without consent is rape. There are no excuses.”
Recent revelations about US comedian Bill Cosby show his widespread use of sedatives on his victims prior to sexually assaulting them. Cosby claimed he used drugs to ‘facilitate consensual sex’. Men like Cosby don’t use drugs to gain consent but to prevent women from saying no! Cosby’s victims’ stories show the importance of focussing on the legal issue of consent in rape cases as Scot’s law now does.
Scottish law on rape and sexual assault changed in 2009 and is quite clear that rape occurs where the victim does not consent and the person responsible has no ‘reasonable belief’ that the victim is consenting. If the victim is incapable of consenting then it is likely a crime has been committed. A woman’s use of drugs or alcohol is not an invitation to rape. Consent can also be withdrawn at any point even if a couple have already had sex. Prior intimacy is no invitation to rape either – rape in marriage is illegal.
Rape is not ‘having sex with someone’, you cannot have sex “with” another person if that person is unconscious, asleep or unwilling. With implies free agreement. Rape is something a rapist does to another person and potential rapists are being told in no uncertain terms that the victims’ rights supercede theirs. With most rapes are carried out in private by people who know their victim, coupled with public attitudes to victims this has until now made reporting a rape a daunting prospect.
With this campaign the focus shifts to potential perpetrator of rape. The message is clear: rape is the responsibility of the rapist and involves a decision they make. The prevalence of sexual assault, rape and sexual harassment in young people’s lives is higher than it should be. While women are mostly the victims, boys and men are also victims.
The aftermath of a rape or sexual assault can have devastating consequences. Rape Crisis Scotland Helpline is there to talk confidentially to victims who can often feel isolated and worried about speaking about their experiences to friends or family.
Rape Crisis Centres across Scotland work closely with Police Scotland’s RapeTask Force who are ready to provide a sympathetic response. There is a great deal of excellent work going on in Scotland to tackle all forms of sexual violence and other forms of violence against women. This is the latest national initiative to send out the message that the days of so-called ‘rape culture’ in Scotland are numbered.
If you are affected by any of these issues, please contact:
In an emergency call: 999
National rape and sexual assault helpline: Freephone 08088 01 03 02