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stop rape road signThis rather alarming piece in the Guardian describes how a girl took a boy to court accusing him of raping her when she was 15 and he 14. She has now been convicted for perverting the source of justice, after the judge decided that she lied about the rape.

The report does not contain many details, but it says the prosecution accused her of changing her story and of holding hands with the boy the day after the alleged rape. Her story was initially that there was just the two of them in the room, which later changed to the two of them and two of his friends; this could be read as evidence of a lie, or as a reflection of her shame/embarrassment at the situation, of her emotional trauma and confusion, or any number of other things. And the fact that she held hands with him doesn’t mean he didn’t rape her. Maybe she was scared of him. Maybe she wanted to try and make it feel like the sexual activity was consensual. Again, there are all sorts of potential explanations.

We don’t know the full picture, but this case frightens me. How exactly did the judge manage to conclude that the girl consented to sex with the boy, unless she was in the room at the time? The idea that it is hard to convict the accused because many rape cases come down to his word against hers doesn’t seem to work the other way. Not when the media’s beloved image of woman as liar, man as innocent victim with everything to lose is so tempting.

See also: Gail Sherwood.

Image by Shera Golding, shared under a Creative Commons licence.