How victims' cash is cut: Adam Sage on the fight for fairer compensation after sexual attack

IN A gentle, cautious voice, Jane starts to recount the events of the autumn night in 1985 that changed her life. She tells how she was abducted outside her local pub, taken to a deserted wasteland and assaulted by three men.

There, she was severely beaten and remembers hearing the men discuss how they would dispose of her body: her next memory is of the intensive care unit at the south London hospital which treated her injuries.

It was an attack that should have warranted compensation of many thousands of pounds, according to Women Against Rape, the group supporting her. Instead, six years later, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board wrote to say that her money would be cut by half, citing two reasons for its decision: she had been drinking on the night of the assault and she was subsequently found guilty of a minor drugs offence.

She was given an interim award of pounds 3,000, but has still not been told what her final compensation will be. Jane's voice rises in anger as she talks of the board's ruling. 'What they are saying is that I was 50 per cent to blame.'

According to Women Against Rape, the award highlights the sort of discrimination often suffered by the victims of sexual assaults. Ruth Hall, of the group, said the board did not need to consider the question of whether Jane was drinking. 'What they are doing is making a moralistic judgment.'

She also condemns the board for citing the drugs offence as a reason for cutting compensation. The conviction was 'utterly irrelevant' to any assessment of Jane's injuries and, anyway, came after the attack, at a time when she had 'lost control of her life'.

Yet the decision was not only the result of human error, she believes, but of a system that is flawed. Guidelines given to the board's members say that they must take account of the 'conduct of the applicant before, during or after the events giving rise to the claim'. This can lead to sort of arbitrary and unjust offer made to Jane, Ms Hall says.

Prostitutes often suffer serious injuries and then receive low offers of compensation as a result of this guideline, according to Ms Hall. Earlier this year, a prostitute in London was who was severely beaten and assaulted was offered less than pounds 2,000.

The group drew up a 10-minute rule Bill - introduced into the House of Commons last month by the Labour MP, Harry Cohen - aiming to reform these aspects of the compensation scheme and seeking to overturn regulations that lead to reductions if victims delay in reporting crimes to the police. Delay, it is said, could be an indication of the gravity of an assault, warranting more money and not less.

Lisa Longstaff, of Women Against Rape, highlights the case of a woman in the Midlands who waited a week before reporting to the police that she had been raped, but was told more than a year later that she did not deserve any compensation.

On appeal, she was given pounds 5,000, which was reduced to pounds 3,000 as a result of the delay. The woman, who was black, said she had been harassed by the police and was reluctant to tell them of her ordeal.

Last month, the Home Office said it would review the compensation scheme in an attempt to speed up payments as more than half the awards still take at least a year to come through.

A spokesman said the board was 'generally and genuinely sympathetic to women in those circumstances. It is not an umsympathetic or inflexible scheme but it has to be as rational as it can.'

Not that these comments cut much ice with Jane. 'Being abducted is a terrible thing to happen to anyone,' she said. 'It never leaves you. I still barricade the bedroom door and the front door, and I still don't really socialise.'

The men were never caught and she says that she still lives in fear of them, a point seemingly ignored by the compensation scheme.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn