More than half of those of both sexes questioned said there were some circumstances when a rape victim should accept responsibility for an attack.
Now, that just shows both how difficult the debate has become and the wider issues surrounding "one person's word against another's" crimes - domestic violence, for example. And women who have been raped are appalled by the survey results.
It (the BBC article, the report, the questions in the research for the report or the questioned) also misses the fundamental difference between 'responsibility' (or as the subsequent comments have it 'blame') and 'contributory behaviour'. I would like to demonstrate with two much less emotionally charged or controversial examples:
- I accidentally forget to lock my car when parking it in a city centre car park. Somebody steals the car, or something from the car. They are a thief and are criminally responsible for their actions. My behaviour in parking the car in the city centre is neither (unreasonably) contributory nor responsible. My failure to lock the car is significantly contributory. This should make no difference to the criminal case but might reasonably change the amount, for example, that my insurance company would pay out.
- I am dismissed from my job for some heinous offence against good taste (I have a number of ties that should do the job.) My tie-disaster is so extravagant evil that they fail to follow the corporate disciplinary policy and summarily dismiss me with immediate effect. I go to Tribunal. It is, because of the failure to follow policy, automatically unfair dismissal. In a heroic devotion to justice and truth, one of the lay members of the panel asks to see the tie. As they are rushed away to Intensive Care, the Chairman declares that my behaviour contributed 99% to my dismissal therefore my compensation will be minimal.
'Blame' for criminal acts, whether life-changingly drastic like rape or trivial, lies with the criminal (unless they do not have the capacity for mens rea in an offence that requires it - in which case they need to be in, or under, some form of care.)
Yes, there are defences of, or similar to, provocation (e.g. self-defence) and there are pleas of mitigation - only the former of these shifts (or removes) responsibility. And I fail to see, under modern British law, how 'provocation' can apply to sexual offences.
Edited to add: Having reread this post, after reading Bella's comment, I can see how my two examples (where the contributory factor is high) might lead people to think I am excusing rapists or blaming victims. If you get that impression - please reread the third and second-last paragraphs of the original article, where I clearly didn't make it clear the difference between responsibility / blame on one side and low risk versus high risk behaviour on the other. No-one 'deserves' to be raped. Equally, if less significantly, no-one 'deserves' to have their car stolen. Regardless of the seriousness of the offence, 'high risk behaviour' is no excuse for the criminal.