Today it is often said that we live in a ‘rape culture’. Panicked headlines tell us that rape is on the increase and that the police are failing to deal with it. Our courts are said to be incapable of delivering justice in rape cases, with the rate of convictions remaining consistently low. Sexism and misogyny in wider society have created a culture in which rape is pervasive, under-reported and often ignored by an uncaring public.
But in his controversial new book Luke Gittos argues that not only are these claims built on myths and misunderstandings, but that the belief in a rape culture is seriously distorting our discussion of sexual violence. For Gittos the laws around rape have expanded significantly in recent decades, giving the state a far greater say in the most intimate areas of our lives. The drive to prosecute more and more people has damaging implications for our legal rights and basic freedoms and our ability to live intimately with one another.