The Human Rights Act 1998

Furthermore, the level of protection offered to personal property is more than tp the person themselves i. e liability for property damage covers the 'unthinking risk taker. However, the law is only one element in the criminal justice process. It sets the boundaries to what is legal & illegal but the boundary still has to be enfforced & enforced effectively. Thus thr reforms will only prove effective if society's attitude changes. There are various myths, stereotypes & misconceptions which undermine the deriousness of rape. A few examples include;

Stranger rape is worse than date rape, consent to sex once is consent for ever, as shown in R v A7, a promiscous person is more likely to have consented in the present case, women & children 'cry rape', men cannot control themselves 'point of no return theory', no means yes. Rape is impossible 'a woman with her skirt up can run faster than a man with his trousers down'. Women want to be raped, I. e the Freudian belief about masochoti nature of female sexuality. Rape is a cy for vengeance and the fact that a woman was asking for it, for example her suggestive clothes.

Furthermore, there is less sympathy for male rape as attitude is that the man should have repelled against his aggressor. This highlights the problem, not only because juries need to be persuaded but also because many men & women have in an everyday sense brought into those same cultural stereotypes. The TV & media have also played a big role not only by showing rape as stranger rape only but also by stereotyping notions of role behavior i. e the 'vulnerable 7 chaste virgin' compared with the sexually active, promiscous whore'.

The courts interpretation of female promiscuity is too broad & the idea of how genuine rape victims should behave is too rigid. The courts attitude can also be seen with regards to homosexuality. In Brown the conduct although viloent was consensual, private & intended only for the purpose of sexual gratification. Howver, they were convicted. Even where laws have been passes the position hasn't improved. For example, although TV links, clearing of the courtroom by press & public, substitution of video recorders for examination, the cross-eaamination by the barrister is gruesome.

The going through in detailed stages of the offence has been described as being raped again. Although the corroboration warning is no longer mandatory8 discretion is left to the judges. The court of Appeal in Makanjuola,9 demonstrated its unequivocal support for the Act's policy. In Keast,10 the court of Appeal suggested use of evidence such as distress is also corroborative & should be restricted. It is hard to justify this, the law has thus moved two steps forward & one step back.

The victims veracity is also doubted. The myth of the revengeful woman, or frightened pregnant girl underpins the corroboration warning. Although there is some change in judicial perceptions of sexual offences so that victims are no longer prescribed as vindictive trouble-makers or guilty of contributory negligence the Court of Appeals enthusiasm for sexual history has not waned. This makes the trial more unpleasant for the victim and also decreases her/his chances of being believed & affects sentencing.

The rule in 11Turner, concerning evidence on the defendant's character, continues to be interpreted so that it discriminates blatantly in favour of accused in rape cases. As Judge Raymond in 1990 said ' As the gentlemen on the jury will understand, when a woman says no she doesn't' always mean it. Men can't turn their emotions on & off like a tap like some women can. ' The jury acquited. The European Convention of human Rights with its emphasis on the rights of the defendants, and that of a fair trial possesses a further threat to the victims.

As a result of the Human Rights Act 1998, protection of individual sexual autonomy will be in the hands of the judiciary as is interprets the convention. There is thus a need for judicial training to heighten gender awareness and deal with sensitive issues. In conclusion, the reform proposals have improved the position but social attitudes are firmly rooted in the past. There is a male dominated approach to sexuality in which aggressive sexual behavior by males is condoned while women are associated by passivity. A change in social attitudes throgh education & other media is thus required to achieve progress.