RAPE is not a pleasant subject but it is an ugly fact of Scottish life. In 2006-7, nearly 1,000 rapes were reported to the police – almost three a day. And that does not include the many other sexual assaults that go unreported. A recent study conducted for Rape Crisis Scotland, which works with victims, found that one in ten men who use prostitutes say they would commit rape if they thought they would not be caught.
Much needs to be done to improve the ridiculously low conviction rate for rape in Scotland. Currently fewer than three out of every 100 reported rapes ends in a conviction. But at the same time, we need to alter social attitudes which hold that women victims are in some way responsible for being raped. Research shows that a third of people – who may end up as jurors – think a woman is responsible for being raped if she behaved in a flirtatious manner; 27 per cent think the same if the woman had been drinking; and 26 per cent blame the woman for wearing "sexy" clothing.
To this end, the Scottish Government is funding a new poster campaign which organisers hope will shock people into reconsidering these attitudes. This is a worthwhile experiment. People will not alter ingrained prejudices just by seeing a poster, but the campaign should provoke a necessary public debate about a subject most of us prefer not to think about. No always means no.