Vulnerable Women Are Routinely Prosecuted – And Imprisoned – For False Rape Claims In The UK

It’s not uncommon for judges to call these women “wicked”; one male judge said a convict had “betrayed the sisterhood”.

The rape case against Rhiannon Brooker’s ex-partner had fallen apart.

Rhiannon had accused him of assaulting her numerous times over a two-year period, but detectives had found discrepancies in her story shortly after they arrested him, so prosecutors dropped the charges.

Elsewhere around the world, that would have likely been the end of it. Not in Britain.

Instead, one afternoon in January 2012, police in Bristol, a city in southwest England, called the 28-year-old back to the station for another interview. Rhiannon thought the purpose of the meeting was to bolster the case against her ex. Police were indeed trying to make a case – against her.

What Rhiannon did not know as she answered the detectives’ questions was that she was now suspected of perverting the course of justice by fabricating her allegations. The crime carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

British authorities are supposed to exercise extreme caution when deciding whether to prosecute someone for lying about rape, especially if the person is vulnerable or if it’s unclear whether the accusation was made maliciously.

Rhiannon ticked many of those boxes. She told police that she had an abusive childhood. Police later said in court that Rhiannon had been extremely reluctant to move forward with the case against her ex in the first place. In fact, detectives blindsided Rhiannon when they arrested him without her knowledge or consent.

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