Rape victims who flirt are 'partially to blame', four in ten French people believe

Survey finds that 40 per cent believe that a woman who acts provocatively in a public place can be held partially responsible if she is raped

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The Independent Online

Four out of 10 people think a ‘flirty’ woman is at least partially to blame if she is raped, research has found. 

The French survey, released by a campaign group that supports rape survivors, asked 1,001 people about their attitudes towards sexual assault. 

40 per cent said that if a woman in a restaurant or night club is acting provocatively and is raped, then the rapist does not hold all the responsibility. 

36 per cent said that if an adolescent girl is raped by an adult man, and she has acted seductively towards him, then the man cannot be held entirely to blame.

Around 75,000 rapes occur in France every year, but well over half of respondents under-estimated this number, guessing that the number lay between 1,000 and 50,000.

Those responding to the survey were shown to have misconceptions about men and women which may be contributing to the attitude that women are partially to blame for sexual violence.

20 per cent of men and 22 per cent of women said that women take pleasure in being forced during sex.

And 63 per cent said that men find it harder to control their sexual desires than women.

Katie Russell, a spokesperson for Rape Crisis England and Wales, said that misconceptions about consent can be dangerous because they contribute to the silencing of rape survivors who are scared to speak out about their experience because of the fear that they might be blamed. 

She said: "The law is really explicit about the fact that consent to any sexual act is a decision made by choice by someone with the freedom and capacity to make that choice. Consent can’t be assumed, it can’t be implied. It must be sought and received by both parties - it’s a simple as that.

"These persistent attitudes, which we know exist as much in this country as they do in France, go to show how far we still need to go in educating the public about the reality of sexual violence. 

"These victim-blaming myths are really damaging because they contribute to a situation in which we know that only 15 per cent of rape and sexual assault victims report to the police. 

"We know that roughly a quarter of those who experience sexual violence don’t tell anyone. 

"At rape crisis we work with survivors who come to us weeks, months, years or even decades after the event." 

French ministers unveiled a plan last summer to combat sexual assault after a poll revealed that 100 per cent of women surveyed had experienced harassment on public transport.  

Plans included an advertising campaign to remind the public that sexual harassment is punishable by law, as well as a special emergency number to call which can be used to report harassment cases. 

They also plan to release an app that will allow police to see the location of reported incidents using smartphone location services. 

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