The Product

What is ToppStoppa?
It's purpose?
How does it work?
Where can you get them?
Who should be buying the product?

Issues surrounding Drug Rape & Robbery

Causes of rape
Court procedures
Date rape
Drug rape
Drug Robbery

Holiday rape
Male rape
Marital rape
Police attitudes
Reporting procedures
Stranger danger


What is Topp Stoppa?

ToppStoppa is a bottle cap which gives temporary protection between drinks and virtual total protection when fully deployed with tamper evidence.

It's Purpose?

To make drinking safer from crown cap bottles whether glass or plastic by giving protection against the spiking of bottled drinks.

How does it work?

The cap is fitted to the bottle with the crown cap in place the crown cap can be removed easily. The cap gives temporary protection between drinks and when the cap is fully deployed virtually total protection against drink spiking. The cap can be removed by the dinks owner by means of the tear off tag which then leaves a tamper evident ring on the neck of the bottle which is very difficult if not impossible to remove.

Where you can get them?

The proposal is that these will be fitted by Bar Clubs and Pubs when restocking fridges and shelves so that the device is in place prior to the cap being removed so that protection is in place when the bottle is opened. They can be purchased by the public from ToppStoppa see contact details.

Who should be buying the product?

All Bars , Clubs and Pubs as part of their due care and protection called for in their license.

Why don't women report?
Research shows that women are less likely to report rape than they are to report domestic violence. One of the main reasons for this is fear of being disbelieved by the police. So immediately, there is a large figure of sexual violence that never gets reported. Rape is an attack on the integrity of the woman's body and on her own autonomy. She may feel powerless to report, particularly if threat of further violence was made. Due to the intimate nature of the crime, she may feel reluctant to submit herself to the invasiveness of a forensic examination and/or questioning from the police.

The Home Office conducted research into rape cases in 1999 (A Question of Evidence) (Also see Articles) and this found that only a third of reported cases were considered by the CPS. So there is a big loss of cases at the police stage. Twenty percent of cases where there was a detected perpetrator were referred by the police to the CPS for guidance on whether to charge and in two thirds of these cases the CPS advised no further action. So the involvement of the CPS, even at the police stage, is crucial.

How many false allegations of rape are there?
There is a commonly held belief that the figure for false allegations is high. In fact there is no evidence to suggest that it is any higher than false reporting of any other crime – around 2%. In fact research conducted by the NYPD and other research conducted in Sweden (Persson, 1981) and recently in New Zealand (Jordan) also found a false accusation rate of 2%. Importantly none of those cases reached court. In fact for some crimes (for example house theft and car theft), false reporting is much higher because of insurance claims.
How many reported cases make it to court?
Home Office research (1999 A Question of Evidence) suggests that the CPS drop around a fifth of the cases referred to them and that around 20% of all reported rapes make it to court.

Causes of rape
Are men motivated by sex?
The myth is that men rape women because they do not have 'legitimate' access to women for sex. The idea is grounded on the belief that men have uncontrollable urges that must be satisfied. In fact, men's sex drives are no more strong than women's. If it was purely a biological urge, then masturbation would satisfy it.
Men rape women to secure power and control. Men commit child abuse to secure power and control. Men are therefore motivated by power – using their penis to achieve this is just a way of gaining power – not a way of gaining sexual relief.

Don't some women 'ask for it'because of their behaviour, dress, appearance?
Again, the idea that women some how provoke attack, assumes that men are unable to control themselves. This an offensive 'excuse', as it does not acknowledge the vast number of men who are perfectly able to conduct themselves appropriately towards women. A good test of whether men's sex drive is uncontrollable is in considering a 19 year old man who is having sex with a partner on the sitting room sofa in his parents house. Can he stop when his mother walks in? Yes he can.

Is it just a deviant few who rape?
Unfortunately there is no way of recognising men who rape. If they had horns and tails our job would be much easier. In reality, men who rape are no different in appearance to men who do not. The rape of tens of thousands of women each year cannot be the work of a few men. Serial rapists certainly exist but generally, the men who rape are men known to the woman, a family member or friend.

What sort of counselling do rape crisis groups provide?
Counselling takes a feminist, woman-centred, healing model which considers that crimes of violence committed against women have a catastrophic effect creating a myriad of repercussions, which impacts on the life of the survivor. The consequences are far-reaching and complex and responses reflect this.
Our model has evolved from over 30 years of effectively working with women. It has developed into an appropriate and effective response underpinned by the following themes and principles.

  • An environment underpinned by a fusion of traditional counselling models.
  • A feminist rationale, which considers the social constructs that give rise to and maintains oppressive structures against women.
  • A response which affirms the reality of the effects on women's life.
  • That challenges the myths that surround women's experiences of sexual violence.
  • An appropriate response, which considers and values the uniqueness of women's experiences and meets the individual needs of women.
  • An empowering response which presents choices and options for women to mobilise and restore her own capacity and strategies to take control of her life.
  • A celebration which affirms and validates her womanhood and capacity for survival.
  • Works towards restoration, change and movement from a survivor to thriver.
  • The responsibility of maintaining standards of good practice is paramount to our work.

Can counselling be damaging?
Only if carried out by people who do not have the skills and do not care about working with women.

Court procedures
The courtroom experience has been called the second assault, do you agree, and why?

Yes, it can be the first time since the women has been raped and reported the incident to the police that she actually relives the full horror of the incident. She may have to face the rapist in the courtroom and may face hostile questioning of a very personal and intimidate nature in a very public setting. It is possible that she will feel very disempowered and experience the trial as another attack.
What is the woman's role in the court?
The woman's role is as a witness for the prosecution and as such she is not represented by legal counsel.
Is she represented in court?
Not at present. In Ireland, representation of the woman has just started. If they can do it we can do it as the legal systems are very similar.
What sort of questions is the woman likely to be asked?
There have been a lot of bad examples in the past. Although the court process is still not easy for women there have been improvements and we are constantly working to improve things for women.

Examples of the kind of question asked in the past and which we hope have been outlawed by S41 of Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act:

  • Have you ever had sex in a car before (If she was raped in a car)?
  • Have you ever had a one night stand/ sex on the first date? (If the man has raped her eg on the way home from a club)
  • Have you ever had sex with a black man before? (If he is black and she is white)

How are women treated in court?
As witnesses for the prosecution. They are not represented in court.
What new measures are there to protect women in court?
Section 41 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act is supposed to protect the complainant from questions about their sexual history sexual behaviour (see above).
Are accused men allowed to question the complainant in court?

In November 1996, the then Home Secretary Michael Howard announced his intention to abolish the right of a defendant in a rape case to represent himself. This was in reaction to the case of Rallston Edwards who cross- examined Julia Mason for six days (Daily Telegraph, 23 August 1996). Her ordeal had been made worse by the fact that Edwards wore the same clothes in court as he had worn when he raped her. Michael Howard's announcement may have indicated the government's intention to accept a more woman-centred definition of violence by recognising the harm done to the woman in court. However, it took a change of government and another three years before legislation was introduced to prevent defendants in rape cases cross-examining the raped woman. This 'right' was taken away under the Youth Justice &Criminal Evidence Act 1999 after prolonged campaigning by groups such as Campaign to End Rape(CER).

Date rape
What is date rape?
Recent reports in the media and attention by researchers has led to the (inaccurate) naming of certain types of rape as 'date'rape. It is not a new phenomenon; men have been raping known women for millennia.
Should there be a lesser offence? (see Law)
We believe not. There is the belief that being raped by a known man is not as traumatic as being raped by a stranger. Our experience shows us that this is often not the case. Women invest a lot of trust into the relationships they form with men and if this trust is abused it can leave the woman doubting all relationships, past, present and future. To enact a lesser offence would be to minimise women's right to justice and minimise the harm the rape has done.
Is date rape as bad as 'stranger' rape?
(see above)
Aren't women in some way responsible?
Women are never responsible for men's actions. Men are responsible for their actions and the law should make them accountable.
Is date rape increasing?
It is difficult to monitor something if it has no name. Before the mid 1970s, sexual harassment had no name, it existed but the language to name it did not exist. Since that time, there has been a growing awareness and reporting of sexual harassment. The same is true of the different 'types' of rape. Although we would argue that rape is rape, being able to name the context of the rape is often helpful for women to recognise and identify the abuse they experience as rape.

Sue Lees in her research, thought that many men who previously would simply have committed stranger rapes, now do try and engage with the women they are targeting. This is because of DNA evidence. In the past they could say "Not me" but now they cannot. Men instead go for consent defence. So they may buy her a drink (or try to) or engage her in conversation first.
Isn't it just a matter of miscommunication?

Again, this assumes that men and women do not speak the same language. Men often deny responsibility by claiming 'my wife doesn't understand me' or 'women are difficult to understand'. Rape crisis groups say that the problem is that men do not want to hear, or ignore, what women are telling them when they say no.
Societal expectations demand that women are caring. Because of this, women may try to 'let the man down gently' if his sexual advances are unwelcome. However, by the time the 'advances' have escalated to demands and attack, women's words often have little effect.
If she has had sex with him in the past, isn't she more likely to consent in the future?
Just because a woman has consented to sex at some time in the past does not mean that she consents for all time. This point is made clear in marital rape. Entering into marriage does not give a man unrestricted access to a woman's body. The same is true outside of marriage. Consent is something that is negotiated on each and every occasion. Frequently, a woman's previous sex experience with a man may have been so awful that she would not want to repeat the experience.

Drug rape
Is Rohypnol the cause of drug rape?
NO – So called 'drug rape' is a media label that has been in response to attacks on women and girls that have happened in the UK over the last ten years in incidences where drugs have been given to the women (unwittingly) in a social setting e.g. a dance club, by a man – who is known/unknown to the women. The drug/s have been usually 'delivered' through drink – alcoholic/non-alcoholic. Drug assisted rape has been happening since time began. Alcohol has been used for many years, to get women and girls drunk in order to make the sexual assault easier for the perpetrator. The forced misuse of valium and other prescribed drugs is regularly used in the rape of women and girls in their own homes.
Some current safety strategies ignore youth culture i.e. that some young women may be taking leisure drugs themselves and that they might take drinks from people they don't know. Whatever, women are not responsible for rape of any kind.
What are the effects of drug rape?
It is important to point out that reactions will vary from person to person and will depend on which type of drug was used. Drugs used may result in a woman becoming physically 'helpless' to respond, result in loss of memory (which may or may not return) or may stimulate sexual response. Women are not to blame for any of this. Even if she consented to take the drug (and that might be the case) she is still not responsible for any subsequent abuse. Women may experience extreme fearfulness or an 'out of control' sensation, particularly if they cannot remember what happened or when the memories come back. Women may have suffered physical injury but be unaware of it immediately or unaware of how the injury happened.
As well as this, women experience the same harms in 'drug'rape as for any other rape – risk of disease, pregnancy, etc…
Why do men drug women for sex?
To gain power and control (see above under Causes of rape 'Are men motivated by sex?' )
How many cases of drug rape have there been?
This is very hard to gauge. Police statistics do not break down cases in this way but reports suggest that the risk from drug rape is in fact quite small. This may only represent the tip of a much larger ice-berg. Rape drugs are just another tool in the rapists toolkit.
Didn't the police do a report on drug rape?
Yes. The Sturman report was released as a joint Home Office/Metropolitan police document in 2000. The study analyses responses from 123 questionnaires on drug assisted sexual assault.

Drug Robbery

Holiday rape
Why do foreign men rape women on holiday?
It is a classic example of xenophobia to assume that women on holiday get raped by 'foreign' men. In many of the holiday rapes rape crisis groups know about, the perpetrator has been someone from the same country as the woman. The misuse of power by men is a global thing. Of course being raped away from home where the first language is not your own makes it difficult for the woman to get the help she might need.
What can women do if they are raped on holiday?
They can contact the local British consulate or embassy to ask for assistance in getting medical and legal help. They can request that the tour company provides them with an early return flight (most claim to do this) on their return they can contact their local Rape Crisis Centre who will help. If they have reported the incident/s to the police abroad, they need then to report it to their local police on return, as they may be involved in handling papers. All papers for the prosecution will have to be in the local language to the country where the attack took place. A good solicitor in the UK will help with this. Once home the Foreign Office is the place to contact for up- dates.
How often does this happen?
As often as rapes in UK

What is the current definition of rape in law?
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 (the Act) came into force on the 1 May 2004. It repealed almost all of the existing statute law in relation to sexual offences. The purpose of the Act is to strengthen and modernise the law on sexual offences, whilst improving preventative measures and the protection of individuals from sexual offenders.
The main provisions of the Act include the following:

  • Rape is widened to include oral penetration
  • Significant changes to the issue of consent and the abolition of the Morgan defence
  • Specific offences relating to children under 13, 16 and 18
  • Offences to protect vulnerable persons with a mental disorder
  • Other miscellaneous offences
  • Strengthening the notification requirements and providing new civil preventative orders

What is the definition of consent?
The Act has three important provisions relating to consent. They are:
(i) A statutory definition of consent
(ii) The test of reasonable belief in consent
(iii) The evidential and conclusive presumptions about consent and the defendant's belief in consent

Section 74 defines consent as "if he agrees by choice, and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice". In the offences of rape, assault by penetration, sexual assault and causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent, a person (A) is guilty of an offence if (s)he:
Acts intentionally;
(B) does not consent to the act; and
(A) does not reasonably believe that B consents.

Deciding whether a belief is reasonable is to be determined having regard to all the circumstances, including any steps A has taken to ascertain whether B consents (subsection (2) of sections 1-4). It is likely that this will include a defendant's attributes, such as disability or extreme youth.
This is a major change in the law and the Act abolishes the Morgan defence of a genuine though unreasonably mistaken belief as to the consent of the complainant. It means that the defendant (A) has the responsibility to ensure that (B) consents to the sexual activity at the time in question. It will be important for the police to ask the offender in interview what steps he took to satisfy him that the complainant consented.

The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1976 sections 4 and 5 provide for the anonymity of complainants in rape cases. The Criminal Justice Act 1988 amended the law on anonymity for complainants in rape cases so that anonymity commences when an allegation of rape is made to police and not- -as provided in the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1976--when a defendant is formally accused. The 1988 Act also removed the anonymity of defendants in rape cases. There were further additions made in the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992 and the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999.

What is the maximum sentence?
The maximum sentence for rape is life imprisonment.
What is the average sentence?
This varies widely. The average sentence seems to be around four years although we do know of many cases where this was much less.
Is prison the best solution?
There are problems with prison. The man may simply gain access to a wider social circle in which he can find legitimacy for his actions. Sex offender treatment programmes have yet to be fully researched and are generally more geared towards child abusers than abusers of adult women. While prison remains the only way to secure women's protection we will continue to push for more appropriate sentencing. Of course for many women and children the abuse happens in secret, in the home and the man pays no penalty.
Should there be different offences of rape?
No. This was agreed at the Sex Offences Review and there will be no recommendation for separate offences. Rape is rape regardless of the relationship or the context.
What are the common defences to rape?
There are 3 defences to rape.
1) Nothing happened
2) It wasn't me
3) She consented.
Because of DNA fingerprinting, we are getting much fewer of the first two defences and much more of defence three.
Because of the Morgan ruling in the mid 1970s, to convict a man of rape first of all, the prosecution had to convince the jury beyond reasonable doubt that the woman was not consenting. Whether he was guilty or not depended on whether or not he thought she was consenting – what was going on in his head –not what was happening to her body. This was the "Morgan" rule which says that a man is not guilty of rape if he believed she was consenting NO MATTER HOW UNREASONABLE THAT BELIEF.
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 introduced the concept of 'reasonable steps'. Deciding whether a belief is reasonable is done by considering any steps he has taken to ascertain whether she consented (subsection (2) of sections 1-4).
This is a major change in the law and the Act abolishes the Morgan defence of a genuine though unreasonably mistaken belief as to consent.

Male rape
Why don't rape crisis centres provide services for men?
Rape crisis provide services for women run by women. Frequently men contact groups because there is a lack of services for men. When this happens the phoneliner will advise the man of local and national contacts that are available for him to contact.
Rape crisis groups were formed in the political context of the Women's Movement. They were a response to the lack of public acknowledgement of rape and the lack of appropriate services. Rape crisis groups cannot hope to solve all the ills of the world, they concentrate instead on trying to make a difference in women's lives.
Just as female rape is under-reported so we suspect is male rape. As far as we know there are no accurate statistical details on the extent of male rape.
Is rape more traumatic for men?
We feel that the horrific act itself of rape cannot be weighted against another attack of a similar nature whether it be male or female, the effects are individual and always traumatic. The idea that women find it easier to report the crime of rape is a myth.
It is however worth considering why a man's mind and body would be more damaged than that of a woman? Women will have to deal with issues that men will not, such as pregnancy testing, morning after pill, pregnancy, abortion or birth of a child.

Marital rape
Is non-consensual sex by a man on his wife considered rape?
When did it become illegal?
1991, before then it was considered that women consented to men once and for all time on marriage.

Police attitudes
What do you know about the Thames Valley Police video?
Roger Graef filmed police officers questioning a woman who was complaining of rape, for a TV programme 'Police' for the BBC in 1982. This brought the public's attention to the techniques of intimidation employed by the police. This highlighted the culture of disbelief that to some extent still pervades the criminal justice system. Police practice has improved but training is still required in understanding how best to treat women complaining of rape.

Have the police improved in their handling of rape cases?
In the last ten years we have seen improvements in relations between Rape Crisis groups and local constabularies. A recent study conducted by Rape Crisis highlights improvements in parts of the services provided by the police to women reporting the crime of rape or sexual abuse. If we were to `paste` these examples together, it would represent the kind of service women want to see offered as a whole in EVERY constabulary. What we see is good practice in some areas, but not all.
What we also found was that there is no one constabulary that delivers all of the good service required by women reporting rape. The fact that good practice happens in some constabularies, is a credit to the dedication of the officers and policy makers in those particular constabularies and the work of Rape Crisis in those areas. It also highlights what is possible - probably with very little extra resources in terms of funding and personnel.
Where the local constabulary works with the local rape crisis the service to women survivors is notable improved.
When a women calls a Rape Crisis help-line numbers and asks what will happen if she reports the incident to her local police – we tell her the truth, whatever that may be in the local context.

Reporting procedures
Isn't rape the easiest charge to bring and the most difficult to prove?

This is actually a misquoting of the myth. It is worse than that. The myth is that 'Rape is the easiest accusation to make and the most difficult to disprove'.
Actually, men find it quite easy to disprove rape under our justice system. Our conviction rate is low and hovers around 6%. Despite this, women continue to seek justice. Rape crisis supports women whatever their decision.

How many reports were there last year?
In 2004/05 measuring offences changed because of the Sexual Offences Act. A total of the various reported offences of rape of a female (of whatever age) was 13,322. This however just the tip of the total number of rapes - most of which are not reported. (See also Statistics)
How many convictions?
Over two-thirds of cases dropped out at the police stage and did not make it as far as the courts.
One quarter of incidents initially recorded as rape were subsequently 'no-crimed' by the police.

The current conviction rate is 5.8%. Is there a trend in the increase in reporting?
The problem about rape in this country is that less than 6% of women who report rape to the police see their attacker convicted of rape. It used to be over 25% and it is falling. This is the issue that must be addressed in this country – perhaps by special prosecutors, as in some states in America.

Stranger danger

What can women do to protect themselves from danger?
The over whelming danger to women in relation to sexual violence is not from strangers it is from men they know – because of this, much 'safety advice' may be largely useless.


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