Legislative and policy responses to rape: reflections from a small jurisdiction

Stream: Reform and Safety Issues for Women and Children
Date: Thursday, 12 February 2015
Time: 1.45 pm – 3.30 pm


Mapping and analyzing policy change can provide insights into the drivers of and influences on policy, and also offer both theoretical insights and practical lessons for reform groups. Taking a broad socio-legal perspective, this paper maps key legal developments and feminist activist contributions to the ways in which rape has been conceptualized, problematised and responded to in Scotland. It seeks to add to debates about rape reform and models of policy change by exploring the particular experience of Scotland, from the mid 1970’s to the present, and by so doing highlights learning points for those seeking reform, including the importance of maintaining close professional links within and across sectors, grasping opportunities presented by changes in government, and seeking opportunities for meaningful knowledge exchange and engagement by academics and third sector organisations with politicians and policy makers in order to create the best chance of having positions included in political commitments. It also highlights the importance of theoretically informed and methodologically robust research which challenges and exposes the legal and social ‘wrongs’ of rape.


Michele Burman (Presenter), Glasgow University
Michele is Professor of Criminology at the University of Glasgow, and a co-Director of the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice research (SCCJR). She has longstanding research interests in gender, crime and justice, with a particular interest in criminal justice responses to gendered violence.