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fawcettmap.gifRapists face little risk of being convicted in this country – that much we know. But research by Fawcett out today shows that the situation is much worse in some parts of the country than others.

But the society said the conviction rate had got worse in 18 out of 43 police areas. For example, in Bedfordshire the conviction rate four years ago was 8.3% but it had dropped to 3.2%. Northamptonshire had the biggest fall in conviction rate – 6.6 percentage points – from 13.8% to 7.2%. The figures showed that fewer than one in 30 women who reported a rape in Leicestershire saw a conviction, while in Cleveland the figure was far higher, at about one in seven.

The Guardian didn’t print a response from Northamptonshire’s police force, unfortunately. But it wasn’t a totally depressing picture – change is possible:

One of the best-performing forces compared with the 2004 figures was Gloucestershire, where the conviction rate rose by 6.57 percentage points. Jeff Brooks, a detective superintendent with Gloucestershire police, said: “We are very encouraged to see that Gloucestershire is the area where the greatest improvements have been made in tackling rape.

“After the Fawcett Society published the 2004 figures, which showed that only 0.8% of rapes reported in Gloucestershire achieved a conviction, we overhauled our strategy on sexual violence.

“We have begun to turn things around by working to collect better evidence early on in rape cases and supporting victims effectively through the criminal justice process.”

Check out a bigger version of the map here.

Meanwhile, the police say that 18,000 girls and women have been trafficked into this country and are now in forced prostitution.

Reports the Independent:

The Government insisted that the success of the campaign, which has resulted in 24 convictions, was evidence of its determination to hinder the work of the gangs behind sex trafficking. Of the 167 women and teenagers released, all but five were being used as prostitutes. The rest, of whom three were children, had been sold as domestic slaves.

Mr Brain also revealed that a large number of residential properties were being used to sell sex (of the 822 premises raided, nearly 600 were private homes). “In some of the cases, neighbours have not suspected any kind of unusual activity,” he said.

Prostitution and people-trafficking is now the third most lucrative black-market trade in the world after gun-running and drugs-smuggling. It is being driven by growing demand for prostitutes in the UK, with websites promoting sex flourishing and local newspapers carrying advertisements for prostitutes. Gangs often share the income from internet “bookings”.

Barack Obama may be stepping back from his long-held pro-choice views, according to ABC News (via Feminist Law Professors – link broken)

On late-term abortions, he recently said:

‘I have repeatedly said that I think it’s entirely appropriate for states to restrict or even prohibit late-term abortions as long as there is a strict, well-defined exception for the health of the mother. Now, I don’t think that ‘mental distress’ qualifies as the health of the mother,” Obama said. “I think it has to be a serious physical issue that arises in pregnancy, where there are real, significant problems to the mother carrying that child to term. Otherwise, as long as there is such a medical exception in place, I think we can prohibit late-term abortions.”

Could loosening up restrictions on talking about your wage packet with your colleagues help close the pay gap? It does make sense – after all, if you have no idea what your workmates are earning then how are you meant to tell if you’re being discriminated against? Bosses that operate fair pay schemes should have nothing to fear…

In fact, this lack of transparency around salaries has led Fiona*, a graphic designer working for a publishing company, to launch a grievance procedure claiming discrimination under the Equal Pay Act after she discovered a year ago that she was paid several thousand pounds less than her male counterparts. “I was chatting with a female colleague and found out she was on quite a lot more than me and the male graphic designers were on even more money.” Fiona went straight to her line manager and brought up the subject of her pay. “I told him I felt disheartened and unmotivated. The irony was that I was training my male colleagues, who were earning more money than me to use new software.”

Cate has left Dollymix! You can still catch up with her at CupCate.com.

And, finally, what’s with the lede for this story? Perhaps it’s my reading material today which makes me bristle at the phrase “magnificent men in flying machines”.