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Are female rape victims discrimated against in legal proceedings? Credibility of male and female crime victims

Research project Women are discriminated against in many speheres of society. This project asks questions about gender issues in within the legal system.

Increasingly, courts and policy authorities have been criticized for their management of rape cases. Few cases are resolved and victims often experience that their credibility is questioned. The aim of this project is to investigate if and how female rape victims are discriminated against. This is studied by cmparing rape cases with cases where men are victims of assault. The project contributes to the following areas: 1) gender and law 2) crime victims' perception of legal processes 3) credibility in legal processes

Project overview

Project period:

2011-01-01 2015-01-01


Finansår , 2011

huvudman: Stefan Sjöström, finansiar: Brottsoffermyndigheten, y2011: 1600,

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Social Work, Faculty of Social Sciences

Research area

Law, Social work

Project description

The treatment of rape in police investigations and court hearings has been subjected to severe criticism in recent years. Few cases under investigation have reached the courts and rape victims often experience that their credibility and character are questioned. Against such critique, it has been argued that it is particularly difficult to prove guilt in rape cases, especially when there is a lack of reliable witnesses.

The aim of this project is to investigate if and how women subjected to rape are discriminated against in the legal system. This aim is pursued by comparing rape cases with similar cases in which men are being victims of assault or other violent crime, and where the credibility of the victim is a key issue.

The cases that are compared involve an identified perpetrator, but without clear evidence from independent witnesses or convincing technical evidence being available. The cases with male victims may involve assault or robbery based on threats.

In total, 48 police investigations of both female and male cases are investigated. Half of this sample will consist of investigations that will result in a court hearing. Data consist of interrogations of witnesses, interviews and police/court documents.

The project will primarily contribute to two research fields: how credibility is assessed in the legal system and gender aspects of legal processes.