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News | Our response to the Lord Advocate's proposals to change corroboration in rape cases

Our response to the Lord Advocate's proposals to change corroboration in rape cases

Rape Crisis Scotland

Most rape cases never make it to court. In many cases, this is because of the requirement in Scotland for corroboration. This is particularly a problem for cases of historical abuse.

The requirement for corroboration means that every piece of evidence must be backed up by another piece. This can be difficult to obtain in rape cases. Today, the Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain, proposed a significant change to what counts as corroboration in rape cases. The Lord Advocate proposed that distress on the part of the complainer, the person alleging the rape took place, should be capable of corroborating penetration. This is particularly significant for cases where there has been a delay in reporting and where there is no or little forensic evidence to prove penetration.

It’s unacceptable that most survivors who report what happened to them and wish to take their case to court are unable to do so. We welcome any steps which remove barriers to justice for survivors. We commend the work of Speak Out Survivors and other survivors of abuse who have spoken out about the injustice of not seeing their cases reach court in Scotland because of the requirement for corroboration, when if they lived in England, they would.

It is important, however, to bear in mind that responses to trauma can be counter intuitive. Not everyone is visibly distressed immediately after being raped, many people try to carry on as normal and may not tell anyone what has happened for months or even years.

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