A top female judge has sparked a furious row after claiming conviction rates for rape in Britain won't improve until "women stop getting so drunk."
Judge Mary Jane Mowat, 66, said she knew she would be criticised for her remarks by adding: "I'm probably going to be pilloried for saying so."
She said juries would always struggle to believe a victim who had been drunk at the time when it was "one person's word against another."
“It is an inevitable fact of it being one person’s word against another, and the burden of proof being that you have to be sure before you convict," she told local paper The Oxford Mail in an interview to mark her retirement after 18 years as a circuit judge.
"I will also say, and I will be pilloried for saying so, but the rape conviction statistics will not improve until women stop getting so drunk."
'Pilloried': Judge Mary Jane Mowat
At Oxford Crown Court where she sat as a judge, only 24% of rape trials end with a conviction, The Daily Mirror reported.
She added: “I’m not saying it’s right to rape a drunken woman, I’m not saying for a moment that it’s allowable to take advantage of a drunken woman.
“But a jury in a position where they’ve got a woman who says ‘I was absolutely off my head, I can’t really remember what I was doing, I can’t remember what I said, I can’t remember if I consented or not but I know I wouldn’t have done’. I mean when a jury is faced with something like that, how are they supposed to react?”
Her comments were condemned by women's rights campaigners.
Katie Russell, from Rape Crisis England, described her comments as "potentially very harmful", The Daily Telegraph reported.
"The point that she and other influential people within the criminal justice system should be making clearly and publicly is that if a woman is incapacitated through drink or drugs then she is not capable of giving her consent," she said.
"And the legal responsibility is on the defendant to evidence how they sought and received that consent, not on the survivor to recall every detail of events.
"It is important to remember that currently only an estimated 15% of all those who are raped choose to report to the police."
"Rape convictions will improve when those who perpetrate it, who are disproportionately male stop raping and when society stops blaming women for somehow being complicit in this act of violence," Oxford Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre service manager Natalie Brook said.
"Only 15 per cent of those who experience rape will report to the police. With victim-blaming attitudes like those displayed by Judge Mowat it is no surprise that conviction rates remain so low."
Mrs Mowat made headlines in 2011 when she gave a teacher a suspended prison sentence for possessing indecent images of children and told him: "I don’t criticise you for being a teacher who’s attracted to children."
"Many teachers are but they keep their urges under control both when it comes to children and when it comes to images of children," she added.
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