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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rape: A history, 1 Dec. 2009
This review is from: Rape: A History From 1860 To The Present (Paperback)
What an amazing book about a very difficult subject. I purchased this book to use as part of my extensive research in order to write a paper on the way in which the criminal justice system revictimises rape victims. It was very informative and well researched giving me a base from which to work. This book is written in an easy to read format and would make interesting reading for scholars and leisure readers alike. Bourke is a great writer and I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about sexual violence and the impacts as well as how we deal with it as a society.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rape: A History from 1860 to the Present, 17 Mar. 2015
Damaskcat (UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a fascinating study of a crime which has always created controversy throughout history. Statistically the majority of victims are female and the majority of perpetrators are male even when the victims are male but the book does not ignore female rapists and nor does it ignore rape within prisons or the military. The book concentrates on rapists rather than their victims and the ways in which society has tried to treat them and/or punish them with varying degrees of success. It also demonstrates how rapists have sought to justify and explain their actions.

The book examines the attitudes to rape victims and perpetrators both within the legal professions and the judiciary and from society and the media. The consistent attitude throughout the period covered by the book has been to blame and disbelieve the victim, whether male or female, and to treat the aggressor as though he simply used a bit more force than necessary but was actually just behaving in a way all men behave. I was trying to think of any other crime where the victim is automatically held responsible to a certain extent for the crime whatever the circumstances and I could not think of one.

I was surprised that until relatively recently judges in rape trials could warn juries that it could be dangerous to rely on the uncorroborated testimony of the victim in the UK. Again rape is the only crime where the victim is unlikely to be believed. If someone walks down a dark alley and is mugged no one tells them they are partly responsible for what happened to them because they walked down that dark alley, so why are rape victims blamed?

I was especially interested in what the book has to say about false rape allegations. It appears that false rape allegations are no more common than false allegations of any other crime though of course prosecutions in false rape cases make headline news. Any false allegation of any crime is likely to have a devastating effect on the person falsely accused but the fact that a case never makes it to court does not mean the allegation was false in the first place.

This book can be read by anyone who is studying in any field such as criminology, psychology or sociology and by the general reader. It has copious notes on the text and a comprehensive bibliography as well as an index. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in this hugely controversial subject.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important and utterly necessary book..., 10 Jun. 2013
C. Ball (Derbyshire) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Rape: A History From 1860 To The Present (Paperback)
"In the UK today only 5% of rapes reported to the police ever end in conviction."

If ever there was a statement to prove how important and utterly necessary a book like this is, there it is. Nineteen out of twenty rapists will never spend a day in jail, will never be caught or convicted. Nineteen out of twenty. It's shocking.

This book isn't about the victims. It isn't about the women and children and men who are brutally sexually assaulted every year - as Bourke says in her introduction, to focus entirely on the victims and their experiences would be letting the perpetrators off the hook. In this book Bourke explores the crime of rape in all its heinous detail, from what has been described as 'real' rape, 'rape' rape, to prison rape, sexual psychopaths, marital rape, military rape, paedophilia. She explores the psychology of the perpetrators, dismantling some of the arguments that claim that rape is part of the natural biology of male aggression, and investigating the ways rape has been investigated and prosecuted, and the way rapists have been treated and prosecuted over the years in the UK, USA and Australia.

I found myself clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth a lot reading this book. The scale, ingenuity and sheer mental contortions over the years designed to absolve rapists of their responsibility and shift it onto the victims, especially women, is staggering. A major part of Bourke's argument is that rapists are not born, they are made, largely through what we today call a 'rape culture', and it is only by addressing that culture, the 'she asked for it', victim-blaming, victim-precipitating, slut-shaming, patriarchal culture that we live in, that we can ever hope to eradicate this crime from our homes and streets.
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Rape: A History From 1860 To The Present
Rape: A History From 1860 To The Present by Joanna Bourke (Paperback - 3 July 2008)
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