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Will Any Woman Do? Police, Gender and Rape Victims

NCJ Number
Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management Volume: 25 Issue: 2 Dated: 2002 Pages: 319-344
Jan Jordan
Date Published
26 pages
In this New Zealand study, 48 women victims of rape and sexual assault expressed their views on the extent to which the gender of the interviewing officer was significant in determining the way in which officers involved in their case interacted with them.
The cases that were eligible for inclusion in the sample involved any report in 1990-94 by an adult woman victim of rape, unlawful sexual connection, attempted unlawful sexual connection, or inducing or attempting to induce sexual connection by coercion. A total of 48 women were involved in the study. The women were asked to provide detailed comments on every stage of the police reporting and interview process. Attention was given to how the gender of the police officer affected the women's experiences of both reporting and interviewing. The study confirms that gender alone does not guarantee a positive response to rape victims. When deployed to interact with victims of rape, policewomen may or may not exhibit victim empathy, and even when victim empathy is present, it is not sufficient to guarantee sound, professional police practice. Training is a factor, and detectives in New Zealand have voiced the need for fuller police education, not only in specialist interviewing skills, but also in covering the effects of rape on victims testimony, post-traumatic stress disorder, and related concepts. Not only is effective training required, but there must be change within the police organization overall. Inadequate supervision and management of staff, as well as allowing negative practices and attitudes to persist unchecked, can undermine the impact of the most well-informed training packages. 78 references