Great Britain Unveils New Rape Trial Procedures

Vera Baird, Solicitor General of Great Britain, announced new procedures that will be used in rape trials. Expert witnesses will be allowed to review with juries the psychological impact of rape on a victim as well as point out it is normal for rape victims to delay reporting such crimes. Juries will also learn that in many cases, the rape victim does know the assailant. Baird is considering altering the law regarding the extent to which a victim who took alcohol or drugs is capable of giving an informed “consent” regarding sexual relations. At present, fewer than 6% of reported rape cases in England result in a conviction which is considerably down from the 33% figure of convictions in 1977.

There is scant doubt sexual promiscuity is more openly discussed and presented in the media than in prior times in history. This inundation of information and graphic imagery plays into the act of rape, and there is need for greater protection for women who are caught in a society in which too many males believe they have rights to impose sex upon women. Ms. Baird is making an important first step in dealing with this issue.