, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 27-45

Falling Rape Conviction Rates: (Some) Feminist Aims and Measures for Rape Law

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Abstract

Rape conviction rates have fallen to all-time lows in recent years, prompting governments to explore a range of strategies to improve them. This paper argues that, while the current legal impunity for rape cannot be condoned, increasing conviction rates is not in itself a valid objective of law reform. The paper problematises the measure of rape law that conviction rates provide by developing an account of (some) feminist aims for rape law reform. Three feminist aims and associated measures are explained—all of which look beyond conviction rates to qualitative and victim-centred outcomes of criminal justice processes. Applying these measures, I argue that strategies designed solely to increase conviction rates are more likely to work against, rather than in support of, feminist aims. The paper thus underscores the need for continued feminist engagement with rape law reform, broadly conceived, notwithstanding its acute limitations for feminist anti-violence politics.