Stop denying compensation to victims of sexual assault

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Lisa Longstaff started this petition to UK Parliament

SIGN WOMEN AGAINST RAPE'S PETITION

Victims of rape and sexual assault are being denied compensation just because we have a minor criminal conviction. 

This outrageous discrimination has deprived 895 sexual assault victims of any compensation in the five years up to 2020 – half to two-thirds had been assaulted as children. A further 331 had their compensation reduced. Many have come to WAR for support to overturn this injustice. Others are too traumatised to even consider appealing.

Overwhelmingly the crime of rape is committed against women, so the sexist standard applied to the treatment of women/girl victims is extended to men/boy victims of male rape.

Legal challenges to end the punishment of rape victims for unrelated criminal convictions have led to a court ruling ordering the Ministry of Justice to review their policy on criminal convictions (see Kim below). It is insulting and deeply biased for anyone to be considered undeserving because of unrelated actions often later in their lives and resulting from their trauma. 

Every woman faces institutional sexism and other discrimination from the authorities, especially if we were children when we were attacked, are women of colour, immigrant/refugee, single mothers, sex workers, low income, have a disability, and/or are related to our attacker.  

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) takes no account of circumstances, no matter what terrible tragedies victims have suffered. Only if the victim’s conviction was “spent”, does CICA have the discretion to reduce compensation rather than refuse it altogether. (The Rehabilitation Act 1974 laid out that criminal convictions with a prison sentence of less than 30 months become “spent” after a period of time.) 

No criminal record can justify denying compensation to victims of rape or sexual assault. The discrimination is even more shocking given that women’s most common convictions are for “crimes of poverty”, such as shoplifting, non-payment of a TV licence, minor fraud, drink or drugs. 

Compensation is often the only official acknowledgement of the violent crime we have suffered. Rape has practically been decriminalised and only 1.4% are prosecuted. To be denied compensation after years of trauma made worse by being denied justice, is intolerable and treats victims as worthless. 

Some of the women we’re supporting:

  • Kim was sexually assaulted at the age of eight by a male teacher at school. She tried to report to the police three times and on the third attempt they took action. The attacker was finally jailed 27 years later, which had left him free to assault others. In her thirties, suffering with Complex PTSD and a personality disorder, sometimes suicidal, Kim had to endure long NHS waiting lists to get help. She applied to CICA but they refused any award as she had been convicted of threatening behaviour and given a “Community Order” when her employer refused to pay her wages! She is furious and said, “I didn’t have this criminal conviction when I was 8.” Her legal challenge led to the order (https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2021/2248.html to the MOJ to review CICA’s refusals for criminal convictions.
  • Emma was raped and pimped out by her grandfather for seven years 2005-2012 (she was aged 11-18). After reporting it at age 18, he pleaded guilty to raping her and “arranging child prostitution” and was sentenced to 22 years. Emma struggled to cope, and was self-medicating with alcohol and drugs. Within weeks, after taking pills and drink, she got into a fight and was convicted of Common Assault. A week later she was suicidal and was sectioned. She was arrested in hospital and given a “Community Order”. CICA refused any award because of this unspent conviction.
  • Other women were punished with a reduced award, like Katie who was raped by a taxi driver when she was 21. He had been acquitted in court, after the judge ordered a review of the investigation and file preparation as it was so shambolic. She was scared to use taxis after that. The police stopped her while driving and found her slightly over the drink-drive limit, having taken one glass of wine. She applied for compensation and was awarded the standard £11,000 for rape, reduced by 30% for her criminal conviction. We helped her appeal and the reduction was reduced to 10%.

WAR’s campaign demands that all discriminatory obstacles and rules be abolished. See more at www.womenagainstrape.net/compensation

Please join us to demand justice.   SIGN THE PETITION

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