Rape: Challenging Contemporary Thinking

Rape: Challenging Contemporary Thinking

Rape: Challenging Contemporary Thinking

Rape: Challenging Contemporary Thinking


Rape remains one of the most controversial issues within criminal justice and receives high profile coverage internationally. Despite the many changes there have been to the law, practice and procedure in the investigation of rape allegations, and support available for victims, victims are routinely blamed for their victimization. Only a very small number of perpetrators ever face prosecution, let alone conviction.

This book aims to take stock of current thinking and research about rape and the way it is handled in practice within the criminal justice system, and to challenge some of the widely held but inaccurate beliefs about rape. It brings together leading researchers in the field from psychology, sociology and law, considering new research and presenting new data from a strong theoretical and contextual base.

The main focus of the book is on adult victims of rape, with chapters exploring such issues as rape and the media, the use of alcohol and drugs in rape, police decision making on rape cases, conviction patterns in rape trials, and interviewing victims of rape and sexual assault.


Mary P. Koss, University of Arizona

In August of 1990 I received an invitation by the then Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Joseph R. Biden, Jr to testify at hearings on the Violence Against Women Act that was eventually incorporated into the Violence Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act and signed into law in 1994. It might have been at that hearing, or it might have been elsewhere, but I recall he said something to the effect that if there were a disease that affected one in five women, a bell would ring to mobilise a massive public response, but in the case of violence against women, the bell tolls very softly. Tempering the pleasure of being asked to introduce Miranda Horvath and Jennifer Brown’s book, Rape: Challenging contemporary thinking is the recognition that its subtext is the same as Biden’s: the bell is still tolling very softly.

This edited book brings together the major thinkers on rape from across Europe. I initially viewed the chapters as an odd lot – a set of chapters on factors that support and promote rape and a second set that examined law enforcement and judicial response. About halfway through the text I recognised that a greater whole emerges from the parts. The material on justice response presents data about what happens in the real world of police stations, prosecutors’ offices and courtrooms, cataloguing what is most typically labelled as ‘attrition’ of rape cases from the system. Eureka! The opening chapters on rape-supporting myths including acceptance and alcohol use were much the same as the typical stereotypes and misperceptions that explain the scant justice accorded to rape victims. The book is a real addition to the knowledge base on rape. It is interdisciplinary . . .

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