Following the ongoing controversy about Justice Secretary Ken Clarke’s remarks concerning categories of rape, the End Violence Against Women Coalition, Rape Crisis England & Wales and Rights of Women have jointly written to the Prime Minister today (19 May) and requested a meeting with him soon to discuss what can be done to tackle appallingly high rates of sexual violence.
In the letter the women’s organisations recognise David Cameron’s own remarks in the House of Commons yesterday that rape is always a serious crime and that the conviction rate for reported rapes is shamefully low.
The campaigners go on to say that Ken Clarke misrepresented the law on rape when he appeared to say there were different degrees of rape. They call for an urgent, public confirmation that there is no such crime as ‘date rape’ and that all non-consensual sex is a serious crime. They say that until such a confirmation is made the Justice Secretary’s remarks risk confusing the public and undermining the effectiveness of the law.
The organisations authoring the joint letter, who include specialist sexual violence organisations, lawyers, academics and campaigners working in the field also appeal to the Government to take this opportunity to examine measures which might reduce the incidence of rape including:
* mandatory sex and relationships education in all schools which includes discussion of consent and of respectful relationships;
* further public awareness campaigns about the law on rape and consent which specifically address notions of ‘date rape’ and make clear that all non-consensual sex is a serious offence.
The campaigners have requested a meeting with the Prime Minister or his advisors to discuss the issues further.