What is a false accusation of sexual violence?

There is a lot of debate over what makes an accusation of sexual assault false? There are people who are so called “men’s rights activists” who will go as far as to say that it might not be an actual rape unless the woman attempts to physically fight off her attacker.  There are others who believe that false accusations are fantasies and that people who bring them up are in some way a “rape apologist”.

Because of these very vocal extremes, and a lot of confusion in the middle, it can be difficult to have a discussion on what exactly makes an accusation a false one. In fact, it is my opinion that the only way to have a discussion on false accusations would be to firmly establish what makes an accusation false.

The very simple definition, of course, is a woman who lies about being raped when she actually wasn’t. Of course, if we could just stick with that definition we would probably be ok.

However, those pesky “men’s rights activists” (or MRA for short)  will suggest that all recantations of rape are false accusations of rape. The Attorney General of Oregon has a sexual assault task force and they put out a paper discussing the potential differences between false accusations and recantations. A woman who recants may have lied about being raped. However, some women also recant because the woman no longer wants to deal with the state for whatever reason. It is very possible that a woman who recants was actually raped and after the ordeal of being raped is tired of dealing with the state and any inadequacies they may have in offering her a support system in her pursuit for justice.

Some people will also suggest that dropped charges and/or cases that end in acquittal are examples of false accusations. This is also a false concept.  Sometimes the police just do not have enough evidence to prove the case. Sometimes the jury will not believe that there is enough evidence to convict someone of rape. This does not mean that rape did not happen. It just means that our system of justice prefers to allow a guilty man to walk free over locking an innocent man up.

So to sum up. Recantations, acquittals and dropped charges are not in and of themselves examples of false accusations.  The only time you can actually say that an accusation of rape is false is when the person has lied about being raped. So let’s try and keep that the focus on any discussion pertaining to false accusations of rape.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.