The discourse of (re)exploitation: female victims in the legal system

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter


Across England and Wales in the year 2017-2018, the number of reported cases of rape in which a charge was brought dropped by over 23%, with less than a third of prosecuted cases resulting in a conviction (CPS, 2018). This, despite an increase in the number of sexual offences reported (ONS, 2018), against a backdrop where rape nevertheless remains vastly underreported. Expectations around gender-appropriate behaviour, mistrust of women, and the resulting judgement faced by women who choose to report, undoubtedly have their part to play in these statistics. It has long been noted that women who experience sexual violence have their ordeals reproduced and legitimated through interpretative discursive devices that serve to rationalise and normalise the incident(s).It has been widely recognised that the police interview is the most crucial link in the chain in terms of addressing issues of attrition and for ensuring fair treatment for victims. Drawing on investigative interviews with female rape victims, this chapter explores the ways in which victims’ accounts are constrained by the discursive resources available to the narrators. It examines the linguistic structures through which the criminal justice system works against women, demonstrating the subtle ways in which sexist discourses are manifested in these interactions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInnovations and Challenges: Women, Language and Sexism
EditorsCarmen Rosa Caldas-Coulthard
Place of PublicationUnited States
ISBN (Electronic)9780429026140
ISBN (Print)9780367133726, 9780367133719
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2020


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