Rape and Attrition in the Legal Process: a comparative analysis of five countries

Brigitte Bouhours, Kathleen Daly

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Despite legal reforms, there has been little improvement in police, prosecutor, and court handling of rape and sexual assault. In the past 15 years in Australia, Canada, England and Wales, Scotland, and the United States, victimization surveys show that 14 percent of sexual violence victims report the offense to the police. Of these, 30 percent proceed to prosecution, 20 percent are adjudicated in court, 12.5 percent are convicted of any sexual offense, and 6.5 percent are convicted of the original offense charged. In the past 35 years, average conviction rates have declined from 18 percent to 12.5 percent, although they have not fallen in all countries. Significant country differences are evident in how cases are handled and where in the legal process attrition is most likely. There is some good news: A victim's "good" character and credibility and stranger relations are less important than they once were in police or court outcomes. However, evidence of nonconsent (witness evidence, physical injuries to the victim, suspect's use of a weapon) continues to be important.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)565-650
    JournalCrime and Justice: a review of research
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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