HandcuffsWe all have our own “nightmare” scenarios: places we never want to be or things we hope never happen to us. A few of them might be:

1. Being caught masturbating by your mum

2. Dying and then finding out that Muslims were right after all and you’re now going to spend eternity burning while drinking boiling pus.

3. Falling off a tall building and landing on a bicycle with no seat.

4. Waking up in the middle of an operation to find surgical staff drinking and making fun of the size of your penis.

5. Finding yourself in the shower with a group of gay men and the only bar of soap left is on the floor.

To this list I’ll add one more:

To be falsely accused of a serious crime, like rape.

One of my friends was falsely accused of rape a few years ago. Mercifully the case never went very far after certain details of the young lady’s story weren’t consistent with a claim to having been raped at all, such as her description of being the one on top while they were having sex. What it turned out to be was simply a case of “drunken shag – morning regret,” which appears to afflict women more than men: to wake up the next morning beside some specimen you’re ashamed of having opened your legs for, and in order to salvage some pride convince yourself that you wouldn’t have wilfully done it with such a beast. Numerous claims to rape are made along these lines every year, and most of them are dismissed.

Unfortunately many men aren’t so lucky and suffer false allegations of rape and end up dragged through a lengthy criminal investigation and trial.

Before I continue I must for the record state my belief that rape is a beastly, immoral crime which should be punished severely by the courts. However, while much is made of the low level of conviction for rape hardly any fuss is made about false accusations. Over the past few months politicians have been falling over each other to jump on the bandwagon and call for an increase in the number of men convicted for rape. Apparently only 6% of accusations of rape which get reported end up in a conviction. Most commentators and politicians reported it as “only 6% of rapes end in conviction” and then blasted the system that “allows men off the hook.” Apparently they assume that a claim to having been raped is equivalent to a rape actually having been committed. It’s as if the men involved in the other 94% of cases have got away with it, when in fact they might not be guilty at all. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? The truth is men are being treated as guilty, and the logic is that more of us should go to jail to keep the stats up.

The 94% of alleged rapes which don’t end in conviction might be explained in numerous ways: the men might have been innocent (perish the thought!), and even in cases in which they are guilty there might not be enough evidence to satisfy that required for a criminal conviction. The thing about rape is that there are rarely any witnesses, and many sexual encounters take place under the influence of alcohol. Many cases boil down simply to the word of a man against the word of a woman: and there is no reason why a woman should be held prima facie more reliable or honest, contra feminists. All of which goes some way to explaining why the conviction rate is so low.

But such is the passion with which the powers that be pursue a rise in the conviction rate that we end up with horror stories of spiteful and malicious woman putting the lives of men through hell with a deliberate false accusation.

This week Jack Gillett was finally cleared of a rape charge that should never have gone to court in the first place. The disgusting thing about the case is that the woman in question will remain forever anonymous, protected by law even though she lied. No such protection for the men who must go through the process. In Gillett’s case he and his accuser were drunk, went back to his room and, well, there was disagreement as to what happened next. But it was only after 5 months that the woman complained that Gillett repeatedly ignored pleas to stop, and instead pulled off her clothes, pinned her to the ground and simulated sex. In Gillett’s version of events they were getting it on and she only told him to stop once he put his hands down her pants, and at that point he stopped. The woman’s account simply didn’t add up when examined: despite there being people in the next room she never cried for help (and witnesses stated the door had been ajar), and she even left the room on two occasions and came back in. The judge was sure there could be no conviction and it took the jury only 2 ½ hours to acquit him: not terribly long for a criminal trial. But these 2 ½ hours only happened after a 3 day trial and a 9 month investigation: during which Gillett had no claim to anonymity and had to suffer his name being dragged through the mud. Moreover, as always happens with this sort of thing, even if you are acquitted there are many people who still suspect you – shit sticks and the clouds of suspicion never clear.

It’s episodes like this that make a mockery of the current law that allows accusers to remain anonymous even after their claims are found to be false or malicious. And there is a growing number of cases in which innocent men have been falsely and maliciously accused.

Ben, 19: Three years after having sex with a girl from school he was arrested for assault, rape and paedophilia. The girl claimed to have been only 15 and that he sexually assaulted her. Ben lost his job and fell under suspicion from lots of people he knew, even his home life was affected. Luckily witnesses came forward supporting Ben’s version of events and inaccuracies were discovered in the girl’s story. The charges were dropped and the girl in question was sentenced for one year for perverting the course of justice.

Jason, 18: Was falsely accused by a woman who retracted her statement in court after turning out to have made false allegations on several other occasions. Jason’s life was made a living hell for over a year.

The False Allegations Support Organisation receives several calls daily from men needing help and advice and a common complaint is allegations after a night out drinking. The group reports that men are often ostracised, even after acquittal, and that many lose their jobs and in a few occasions their sanity and will to live. It is also a sad fact that an unfounded charge remains on a person’s Criminal Record Bureau file permanently (as does their DNA, photograph and fingerprints), which can affect job and career prospects. No mistake about it: a false accusation can ruin a persons life just as much as a rape can.

And the women in question often get to walk away unknown by the public. It is a relatively good system to allow alleged rape victims to remain anonymous before and during a trial, and even afterwards if the man is found guilty. But there is no basis for anonymity if the man is acquitted. Moreover, wouldn’t it be much better for the man to be protected with anonymity before and during a trial, and afterwards if he is found not guilty? As it stands the system is badly loaded against men, and needs to change.

After reading numerous testimonies of men falsely accused I must confess that the prospect of falling off a tall building and landing on a bicycle with no seat doesn’t sound quite so bad after all.