July 28, 2000
2:53 PM   Subscribe

Is this for real?!? The Blair government in the UK is proposing to change the rape laws so that any man accused of such a crime will be guilty until proven innocent!!! (Even weirder, this tidbit is halfway down a story that thinks the bigger news is that they want to make sex in public legal. Which is fine, I guess, as long as I'd retain the right to hose them down if I saw them out on the sidewalk in front of my house.)
posted by aaron (5 comments total)
The Standard is good at overhyping things. Here's a BBC story and a Guardian piece on the review: basically an attempt to bring common-law practice up to date, and iron out statute anomalies based on Victorian presumptions of what sex entailed.
The proposals on rape will not affect the burden of proof or the presumption of innocence. It would still be for the prosecution to prove that the woman did not consent to sex, if the defendant said she did.
The review rejected two proposals strongly urged on them: creation of a separate, lesser offence of date rape to improve conviction statistics; and, more controversially, preventing an acquittal if the jury accepted a man honestly believed, however unreasonably, the woman had consented.
posted by holgate at 3:11 PM on July 28, 2000

I think this brings up an interesting American issue: why is the name of an alleged rapist released when his accusor's isn't? I think this tips the scale in favor of women to "cry rape" without fear of retribution. Either release both or neither names....
posted by owillis at 10:38 PM on July 28, 2000

The US is already moving towards a defacto guilty until proven innocent stance in rape and sexual abuse cases. Many major organizations that speak on the issue to schools and church youth groups actually support guilty until proven innocent. When confronted with Constitutionality, they consider the Constitution secondary to "the fact that women are being raped".
posted by dagnyscott at 1:40 PM on July 29, 2000

Reminds me of the Clarence Thomas hearings, when the feminists were crying out that Thomas shouldn't be confirmed not because of the evidence against him (which obviously wasn't anywhere near reasonable doubt), but merely because of "the seriousness of the charges."
posted by aaron at 8:37 PM on July 29, 2000

That's emotion getting in the way of truth. The reason it's innocent until proven guilty is precisely because of emotional issues like this one. Without that, there is no justice. Of course, try to explain that to a woman who has been raped, and you'll be lucky to leave the room just castrated. By a spoon.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:39 AM on July 30, 2000

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