Expert Evidence

, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 37-58

First online:

The Reality and Myth of Rape: Implications for theCriminal Justice System

  • Katherine E. EdwardAffiliated withCanterbury Christ Church University College
  • , Malcolm D. MacLeodAffiliated withSchool of Psychology, University of St. Andrews,St. Andrews

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This article sets out to evaluate the researchevidence for rape myths and the extent to which theyare causally related to rape proclivity; negativeattitudes towards rape victims; and the reporting ofsexual assault incidents to the police. In reviewingthis literature, we provide an evaluation of theimpact of this research on the criminal justice systemand possible future developments. We argue that thisresearch, while failing to provide conclusive evidenceof a causal relationship, has nevertheless played animportant part in shaping more sympathetic approachestowards rape victims in the criminal justice system.However, we also argue that the current research fallsshort of the level of proof required for it to beadmitted as evidence in criminal trials. We considera number of alternative uses including AmicusCuriae briefs, and the training of juries and judgesprior to hearing rape cases.

expert evidence rape rape myths reporting stereotypes