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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 August 2007, 14:02 GMT 15:02 UK
Shock over 'rape blame' findings
Distressed woman
Very few people are convicted of rape in Scotland
Almost a third of people in Scotland think a woman can partly be to blame if she is raped, a Scottish Executive survey has shown.

The study was carried out as part of the executive's campaign against domestic violence.

Women's groups reacted with alarm to the findings and said it could help explain why only about 4% of rape cases result in a conviction.

Changes to rape laws are being examined by the Scottish Law Commission.

The survey showed the vast majority of people in Scotland believe rape victims are never responsible for the crime.

But 27% said if a woman was drunk she was partly to blame, while the proportion was 26% if the woman was wearing revealing clothing.

Almost a third - 32% - told researchers it was partly a woman's fault if she was flirting, while almost a fifth said she may be to blame if she has had many sexual partners.

Women are too often portrayed as these nice pretty people who shouldn't be doing this or shouldn't be doing that
Sandra White MSP

However, that figure rose to half when those over the age of 65 were asked whether a woman who had been flirting could be held partly responsible for being raped.

However, the study found that in each of these cases, only about 5% of people thought the woman was totally or mostly responsible for the attack.

Scottish National Party MSP Sandra White, who sits on the equal opportunities committee at Holyrood, said society had to change its attitudes to rape.

She said: "It is double standards. Do men who are drunk deserve to be battered or attacked because they are drunk, or if someone's drunk do they deserve to be knocked down by a car if they fall in front of it?

"It is an attitude thing and a societal thing. Women are too often portrayed as these nice pretty people who shouldn't be doing this or shouldn't be doing that.

"I think men are the ones who have got to put forward and change their attitudes towards the fact that a woman has the right to dress as she wishes, flirt and have a drink like anyone else. Why should you be subjected to a rape?"

'Despicable crime'

A spokeswoman for Rape Crisis Scotland said it was "deeply worrying" that such a large proportion of the population was prepared to blame women for rape.

She added: "These attitudes can be played out in rape trials."

A Scottish Executive spokesman said the survey had asked "detailed and sensitive" questions on all forms of violence against women, including rape.

But he stressed: "Ministers are clear that rape is a despicable crime and those found guilty deserve to be punished and society protected.

"No victim should be dissuaded from coming forward because they fear that the law is unclear or that their experience will not be taken seriously."

The spokesman said that the Crown Office had published the findings of a "landmark review" of the investigation and prosecution of sexual offences, which he said would give victims "increased confidence" in quality of investigation and prosecution.

He added: "The Scottish government is also committed to ensuring that when giving evidence, rape victims are protected from unnecessary lines of questioning and that's why we await the results of an independent review of the laws of evidence in sex offence cases."

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