BBC and Rape Culture

My complaint to the BBC Regarding this Newsbeat article about false rape claims.

The outcome of the report quoted in the Newsbeat article, is that false rape claims are much lower than generally believed, and that the incorrect belief in high false claims (that it seems your Newsbeat team shares) is harming rape victims, resulting in fewer prosecutions.

Yet your article (even/especially the headline) focusses on the “problem” of false rape claims, and the devastation they cause. This is an article aimed at young people – are you aware that many young men already believe false rape claims to be a significant problem and routinely support rapists (even after conviction) as a result (see the #justiceforched hashtag on twitter for numerous examples.

You stated 2 false rape prosecutions/month, yet you failed to mention that there are 1500 women raped EVERY WEEK. You should be ashamed.

Please please, if you are going to report on rape, focus on the real problem, and that is how to stop women being raped.


The Reply

I’ve just been reminded in the comments that I’ve not followed up and posted the reply (Thanks Crosby). Here it is, in all its depressing glory, received on 15th March

Thank you for your feedback regarding the Newsbeat story on false rape allegations.

This was a story commissioned to specifically examine what it was like to be falsely accused of rape. To help contextualise the story we reported on a 17-month study carried out by the Crown Prosecution Service which set out to establish how common such false rape allegations were. In the past we have published many stories highlighting the issues surrounding rape and domestic violence, specifically targeted at our core audience of 15 to 24-year-olds. Please find links for two such stories below:

On this occasion we chose to look at those young people – usually men – who are occasionally wrongly accused.  We know from our audience research that among this group concern over this issue is commonplace – we sought to contextualise this anxiety.  I do not agree we misrepresented the study, or published an article that might somehow put people off reporting such serious crimes. However, having considered feedback, I agree we were not clear enough in our wording. For clarity we have changed a word in the second sentence from “common” to “unusual”.

In the fourth line of our story, we quote the Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer, who says false rape allegations are “serious but rare”. In the accompanying video he makes the same statement within the first 50 seconds. While our story hears from a young man who says he was wrongly accused, we ensure that rape victims are given a voice by running quotes from Dianne Whitfield from Rape Crisis. We also feature a video which contains a Nottinghamshire Police spokeswoman who says their starting point is always to believe allegations of serious sexual assault. She goes on to explain how thoroughly they investigate both sides of any allegation. Far from downplaying the seriousness of rape we finish our article by publishing the phone numbers of advice lines for people who believe they may have been the victim of rape or domestic violence.

On the day this story was broadcast we received a big response from our young audience, and we openly invited feedback on this challenging topic. While some people did say our reporting of false accusations was damaging to real rape victims, on our Social Networking sites false accusations were described as “disgusting”, and one young man told us that he felt the bigger problem was that these claims make life harder for real rape victims to be taken seriously. On Twitter another young male listener told us “Allegations of rape not only waste police time but wreck the lives of those accused! And another wrote: “My 23-year-old nephew was recently accused of rape. He then killed himself. The girl did it again to another guy.”

Our view is that all aspects of this subject merit coverage and debate and we will continue to do so.  Thank you again for taking the trouble to get in touch with us.

Yours sincerely,

Rod McKenzie
Editor, BBC R1 News

Amazon reseller continues to sell t shirts promoting violence

Continuation of this post

Although the “rape” t shirts have been removed, because of the random way the t shirt slogans have been generated there are still many slogans being sold which seem to promote violence (including violence against women). The example in the image below (“Keep Calm and Slit Her”), is just one of many, including “….Break Her” “…..Rock* Her” “….Rob Her” etc.

Here is a transcript of my latest chat with an Amazon Agent – still not getting anywhere.

You are now connected to Ross from
Ross:Hello there. How can I help?
Me:Hi. My name is Tony.
I assume you have been made aware of the “keep calm and rape” t shirts that were being sold by one of your resellers, and have since been taken off?
Me:Well problem is unfortunately not solved. Since the phrases were randomly generated by a computer, you still have:
“Stay Calm and Slit Her” “..and Break Her” “…and Rock Her” “..and Rob Her” + many others.
I strongly request that the offending store is taken completely off line until they are able to fully clean up their act.
Ross:Thank you for letting us know. I will forward this on to the relevant department for review, and they will take the appropriate action.
Me:When will they take the appropriate action? This has been going on for two days now, and is simply not acceptable.
Ross:We’re not at liberty to reveal details of our internal processes, I’m afraid.
Me:Perhaps I should make a report to the police regarding “hate crime” (I actually don’t like that phrase – but it might be appropriate in this case). I very strongly feel you must take urgent action.
Please can you assure me you will escalate this using the most urgent internal process you have?
Ross:I can assure you that I will escalate this using the most urgent internal process that I have available to me.
Me:OK Ross – thanks for your help. Have a nice day.
Ross:You too, Tony. Take care.
*Admittedly “Rock Her” can have a less sinister meaning, but bearing in mind where we started, I can’t keep the image of rock wielding madman out of my head.


Amazon allows reseller to sell rape promoting tee shirts.

In a move that beggars belief, Amazon allow a reseller to sell the t shirt below, in a range of pretty colours, and no less than 8 others with similar rape related slogans. Below the image, you can see a transcript of the chat I have just had with an (obviously) un-briefed customer agent. We’ll see what happens.

The reseller by the way is called “clothing store”. Do what you like with that information.




You are now connected to Leno from 

Leno:Hello, my name is Leno.
Thank you for contacting May I know your name, please?
Me:Tony is my name. Hello.
Leno:Hi Tony
I will surely assist you better
Could you please elaborate your query?
Me:Yes, I can. Somewhat feeling the rage at the moment – not at you, you understand, but at Amazon. In a country where 100,000 women are raped every year, you are allowing to be sold through your site, rape promoting clothing, eg:
If you want to keep my custom, (and that of many other people I am reading on twitter right now) you need to get them removed from your site.
Leno:I understand your concern Tony.
Thanks for bringing this to our notice.
I will now surely forward your feedback right away.
You will be notified within 2 business days.
Is there anything else I can do for you today?
Me:Thanks – I will expect a reply telling me they have been removed. Thanks for your help.
Leno:We hope to see you again soon! Please click the “End Chat” link to close this window.