The (in)credible words of women: false allegations in European rape research

Violence Against Women. 2010 Dec;16(12):1345-55; discussion 1372-4. doi: 10.1177/1077801210387748.


The issue of false allegations in rape cases cannot be understood without reference to the ways in which rape law and its interpretation has historically problematized "the words of a woman" when what they were speaking about was sexual violation. Whilst the letter of the law has been reformed in many countries, legacies remain sedimented into institutional cultures and practices, creating a risk of over-identification of false allegations by police and prosecutors. Findings from two European studies on attrition in reported rape cases are drawn on to highlight both the mechanisms and processes which create the category of false allegations, especially the opaque "no crime/unfounded" designations and that CJS personnel believe the rates to be considerably higher than their own data. The article concludes by raising the possibility of internationally agreed standards for designating a rape report "false."

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Crime Victims
  • Deception*
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Law Enforcement / methods*
  • Male
  • Police
  • Prejudice*
  • Rape / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Rape / statistics & numerical data*
  • Research
  • Stereotyping*
  • Women