If India has a poor record of tackling crimes against women, supposedly more “enlightened” Britain has hardly done much better with official figures published by The Sunday Telegraph showing that hundreds of convicted sex offenders, including rapists, are getting away with what victim groups described as little more than “a slap on the wrist.”
The revelation that many rapists were let off simply with a warning or community sentences prompted calls for more deterrent sentencing guidelines. One activist said that allowing a rapist to get away with community service amounted to a “slap in the face” of victims.
“These figures are horrendous and we are disturbed that cases get to court and receive such a low sentence,” said Jo Wood of the campaign group Rape Crisis.
She said women were “appalled” that so many convicted rapists were receiving cautions or community services.
“It is just ridiculous, and it trivialises the victim’s experience and the impact the assault has had on them. To endure a rape trial is a further violation of your dignity, and for your rapist to be found guilty and then simply given a community sentence is the final slap in the face.”
Labour MP Jenny Chapman, who obtained the figures, said she was “shocked” to see how many sex offenders were being let off with non-custodial sentences.
“There are far more violent criminals and sex offenders receiving non-custodial sentences than anybody realised. I was shocked to see just how many there were. Clearly these punishments are outside the sentencing guidelines and more work needs to be done to justify these lenient sentences. Most of the messages that have come out over the last couple of years, particularly around sex offences, have been very unhelpful,” she said.
According to the Telegraph report, a 76-year-old man convicted of raping his niece when she was just 11-years-old was given merely a community service order on the grounds that he was suffering from an age-related mental illness. In another case, a 25-year-old man was let off with a two-year community order after he claimed that he was drunk when he raped a woman.
“Another case last year saw a teenager who repeatedly raped his nine-year-old male cousin being handed a two-year rehabilitation order,” the report said.