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Even after #MeToo, research reveals 'alarming' attitudes to consent and sexual assault

Even after #MeToo, research reveals 'alarming' attitudes to consent and sexual assault
By: mashable Posted On: December 06, 2018 View: 4

Even after #MeToo, research reveals 'alarming' attitudes to consent and sexual assault

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A major new survey has revealed the extent of alarming views about consent and what constitutes rape and sexual violence. 

The research, conducted by the End Violence Against Women Coalition in collaboration with YouGov, found that a third of men in Britain believe that if a woman has flirted on a date it "generally wouldn't count as rape" even if she didn't explicitly consent to sex.  

A third of men also believe a woman "can't change her mind after sex has started." 

And 33 percent of Brits believe it "isn't usually rape" if a woman is pressured into sex without "physical violence" taking place. 

4,000 people across Great Britain were surveyed in EVAW Coalition's effort to find out why rape is proving "so difficult to tackle" during an era "when reports to police are increasing exponentially." Per a FOI request undertaken by EVAW, police recorded 16,374 rape offences between 2012 and 2013. This number rose to 41,186 in 2016/2017. 

The research also showed worrying attitudes towards "stealthing" — the practice of removing a condom during sex without a partner's consent. 40 percent of those surveyed believe "it is never or usually not rape" to stealth someone. 

The study also suggested a big generational divide when it comes to attitudes to what constitutes sexual violence. 

"This could help explain why juries are so reluctant to convict particularly younger men where consent is in question."

35 percent of over 65s surveyed believe it "isn't rape" to have non-consensual sex with a wife or partner, compared to 16 percent of 16-24s. 

43 percent of people over 65 think that "in most cases" if a woman changes her mind "halfway through but the sex continues" it doesn't count as rape. This figure contrasts with 22 percent of people aged 25 to 49. 

Rachel Krys, co-director of the EVAW Coalition, said in a statement that the figures are "alarming" because they show "a huge proportion of adults in Britain — who make up juries in rape trials" are not clear about what constitutes rape. 

"It is known that the vast majority of women who are raped know the person who raped them, but for many people, the most commonly understood scenario is a single violent incident of rape committed by a stranger on a dark street," Krys continued. 

"This could help explain why juries are so reluctant to convict particularly younger men where consent is in question."

Krys noted that there's been "a huge increase" in the number of women reporting rape and sexual violence to the police. 

"#MeToo has shone a light on the scale of sexual violence, and more women are seeking justice," said Krys. 

"Yet as a society we are failing to respond to this call for help, and this year the number of cases being taken forward by police and the courts fell."

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