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Bid to stop blame theory on rape

4 March 08 09:53 GMT

A campaign is to be launched to combat the perception that women are sometimes partly to blame if they are raped.

Rape Crisis Scotland is behind the adverts refocusing attention on the fact attacks can devastate lives.

Women's groups and politicians were shocked at a recent survey revealing a quarter of Scots believed that raped women may be partly responsible.

The campaign comes as ministers are preparing to bring in radical reforms to the law on rape and sexual offences.

The Scottish Government is providing £200,000 to fund the advertisements which feature women flirting or wearing provocative clothing, under the slogan: "This isn't an invitation to rape me."

The adverts are based on a successful campaign by US organisation Peace Over Violence, and will be released in Scotland this summer.

Consent to sex

It is the latest initiative to try to improve Scotland's rape conviction rate which, at 3.9%, is one of the lowest in Europe.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said there was an urgent need to bring public attitudes into the 21st century.

"It is hard to believe that in a modern Scotland there are people who still think that if a woman is dressed in a certain way or has been drinking it's her own fault if she is raped," he added.

"Similarly, people who believe that a woman can't be raped by her husband, or someone else she knows, are wrong. A person doesn't have to use physical force to make it rape. We need to make sure that is clear."

The government has pledged to modernise rape laws following a report by the Scottish Law Commission.

It recommended defining for the first time what consent means, suggesting both parties must freely consent to sex.

It is thought that in particular, this would give a drunken victim more legal protection.

Sandy Brindley, national co-ordinator of Rape Crisis Scotland, said: "Studies into public attitudes consistently show that many people blame women for rape if we have been flirting, are dressed in revealing clothing or are known to have had many sexual partners.

"What this means is that at least some of the people sitting in juries in rape trials are likely to hold these kinds of attitudes."

Legal changes must be underlined by concerted effort to challenge perceptions, she added.

"Far too many people still think women are 'asking for it'. We hope that our new campaign - the first of its kind in Scotland - will make people start to challenge their own and other people's attitudes to rape."

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