This is the joint website of  Women Against Rape and Black Women's Rape Action Project. Both organisations are based on self-help and provide support, legal information and advocacy. We campaign for justice and protection for all women and girls, including asylum seekers, who have suffered sexual, domestic and/or racist violence.

WAR was founded in 1976. It has won changes in the law, such as making rape in marriage a crime, set legal precedents and achieved compensation for many women. BWRAP was founded in 1991. It focuses on getting justice for women of colour, bringing out the particular discrimination they face. It has prevented the deportation of many rape survivors. Both organisations are multiracial.




Woman wins appeal against compensation cut made because she had been drinking

Rape victim's victory ends blame shame

by LOUISE NOUSRATPOUR, Morning Star, 12 August 2008

RAPE victim campaigners demanded changes in the law on Tuesday to stop "old and sexist prejudices" getting in the way of justice after a woman won an appeal against a compensation cut made because she had been drinking.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) admitted on Tuesday that, in the past year, around 14 women had been told that they would receive lower levels of compensation due to alcohol consumption.

But one unnamed woman, who believes that she was raped four years ago after having her drink spiked, successfully overturned a decision by the CICA to cut her compensation because she had been drinking "excessively."

She said that being told that the already meagre standard award of £11,000 would be reduced by 25 per cent "felt like a slap in the face."

She had received a letter from the CICA stating: "The evidence that we have shows that your excessive consumption of alcohol was a contributing factor in the incident."

The woman said: "When I read the CICA letter, I just had no words. I could not take it in.
"It felt like I was being punished for having the audacity to step up and say: 'I don't think this should have happened to me.' It was like going back to the '70s, saying: 'she was asking for it.'

"How else could you read the letter but as saying it's my fault I was raped?" she asked.
Her success will benefit 11 other women who have seen their compensation reduced because they had been drinking.

The CICA insisted that its compensation scheme was "originally applied wrongly" but that the mistake was corrected at review, with the award being paid in full.

But campaigners rejected this explanation and demanded a full inquiry as well as a complete change in the law to prevent this "injustice" ever happening again.

Sandra McNeill of the Campaign to End Rape urged the government to examine past cases of rape to see if "old and silly prejudices" have affected final decisions.

"Old prejudices like if a woman is wearing a short skirt or acting in a certain way are still operational," she warned.

"By reducing compensation because a woman has been drinking, CICA is operating under those old prejudices. No woman is responsible for being raped. Rape is rape is rape."

Communist Party of Britain women's organiser Mary Davis said that she hoped that the successful outcome of the appeal would lead to an end to the sexist blame shame.
"As it stands, the law is not on the side of women and rape victims. It is notoriously difficult to prove rape, which is why conviction rates are so ludicrously low."

More than 45,000 women are raped every year in England and Wales, yet Britain has one of the lowest conviction rates in Europe - an average of just 5.3 per cent.

Ms Davis demanded: "The law must change to make it easier for victims to prove their case and ensure women are not blamed for being raped."

A spokeswoman for Amnesty International UK pointed to a new study by the organisation which found that "more than 30 per cent of people said that a woman was partially or totally responsible for her own rape if she was drunk.

"This compensation claim is further evidence of the sexist 'blame culture' that prevails. Much more needs to be done to counteract this dreadful stereotype."

A Women Against Rape spokeswoman highlighted that it was not just in the case of drinking that rape victims had their compensation docked but also in a whole range of other "sexist" judgements.

"Two prostitutes who brought the first successful private prosecution against a
dangerous serial abuser and rapist in 1995 saw their compensation halved because they were working as prostitutes," she recalled.
"The law is unacceptable and must be changed."

Listen to and read the item reported on BBC News Channel

Debaleena Dasgupta, the lawyer who represented the victim, explains the shift in policy. Today, BBC Radio 4, 12 August 2008