Many factors contribute to attrition in sexual offense cases from victim reluctance to systemic barriers. This book examines the attrition of sexual offenses across seven countries—Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, the UK, and Türkiye. Using various jurisdictions and legal systems sheds light on how those systems' distinctive features impact investigation and adjudication. Through the critical analyses of various sexual offenses and statistical data, European Perspectives on Attrition in Sexual Offenses demonstrates how cases continue to attrite through their journey from commencement to the finalization within the European criminal justice systems. This book would be of interest to scholars studying criminology, criminal justice, and law as well as practitioners within the criminal justice and legal professions.
Rahime Erbaş is assistant professor in criminal law at Istanbul University.
List of Cases
List of Legislations
Foreword by Davor Derencinovic, Judge (ECHR)
Introduction by Rahime Erbaş
Chapter One: Addressing the Problem of Rape Myths in Jury Decision Making: Lessons from The UK Jurisdictions by Fiona Leverick
Chapter Two: Attrition in Sexual Offenses and Legal Procedural Models: The Italian Case by Armando Saponaro
Chapter Three: Outside the Legal Framework: Myths and Stereotypes in Spanish Sexual Assault Cases by Elisa Simó Soler, Miguel Lorente Acosta and Elena Martínez García
Chapter Four: Reform Needs in German Criminal Law on Sexual Offenses: The Non-Compromise of “No-Means-No” by Lena Gmelin and Hannah Wörner
Chapter Five: The Legal Framework as A Way of Correcting Attrition in Sexual Offences: Lessons Learned from Sweden by Dennis Martinsson
Chapter Six: Italian Criminal Justice and Sexual Offenses by Lucia Parlato and Marta Palmisano
Chapter Seven: Between Challenges and Appropriate Response to Sexual Violence: The Example of Bosnia and Herzegovina by Ena Kazić- Çakar
Chapter Eight: Attrition in Sexual Offenses with Evidentiary Challenges: The Example of Türkiye by Rahime Erbaş, Neslihan Can, Ahsen Akdemir and Selen Çakırhan
About the Editor
About the Contributors
Accountability for sexual assault lies at the complex intersection of human behavior, interpersonal relations, societal biases, and criminal law and process. Today, many nations are struggling to refine law to achieves an optimum balance between efficacy of criminal accountability and fundamental fairness. This highly valuable and instructive comparative treatment of sexual assault reform efforts throughout Europe highlights these efforts; a resource of significant value for lawmakers, judges, and members of civil society engaged in this process. Indeed, this is the true value of comparative law writ large: affording those responsible for making and implementing law the opportunity to learn from the methods and processes of other legal systems. To that end, this work provides what I believe will be an especially valuable contribution, as it captures the initiatives triggered by the recognition that the existing systems of criminal law and process are failing too many victims of these despicable crimes.
Attrition phenomenon in sexual offences, mostly known as a criminological phenomenon, is a subject of great interest in all the European countries. Indeed, statistical data reveals the small number of sexual offenses that manage to enter the judicial system and lead to a criminal conviction. The book, written by scholars with experience in different area of law – criminal law as well as criminal procedural law – examines, with a critical approach, the causes of this phenomenon in sexual offenses in different jurisdictions, such as: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, the UK and Türkiye. The work is aimed at completing the previous book, Global Problems in Sexual Offenses (Lexington, 2022) which called for a holistic approach and comprehensive protection for victims of sexual offenses in criminal procedure law. Unlike the previous, this new book, from the perspective of criminal justice system, recognises that the causes of high attrition in sexual offenses have to be found in the different legal definitions of sexual offenses provided for by criminal codes provisions of each legal system. Another cause can be found in the procedure of investigating and prosecuting within the different criminal procedure systems analysed. In the latter regard, it appears that legal procedural models – accusatorial rather than inquisitorial – may influence attrition. Also difficulties in proving sexual offenses are deemed among the main causes of attrition. This book, written with a concrete and dynamic approach, offer possible and comprehensive solutions, not only of a legal nature, to reduce attrition. It is of interest to scholars studying criminal law, criminal procedure law, philosophy of law and social sciences.
Based on an international approach, the book offers a thorough analysis of the main factors contributing to the attrition phenomenon in sexual offences. In order to highlight the causes that undermine the prosecution of sexual offences, both criminal law and criminal procedure perspectives are followed. Thanks to this methodology, a comprehensive examination of the problems that the topic of the victim’s consent implies is carried out with regard to different national systems (Germany, Spain, Sweden and Turkey). In this field, the research gives valuable insights for the identification of the consensus model that is more suitable, on the one hand, to ensure the victim’s self-determination and, on the other, to solve the difficulties of proving sexual offences. As illustrated in the book, further issues arise when the attention is focused on some critical aspects of the decision making process: the lack of uniformity in regulating sexual offences within the same jurisdiction (Bosnia and Herzegovina); the influence of prejudices and stereotypes on the jury (UK); the impact of the adversarial system model (Italy). Moreover, as the Italian jurisdiction shows, among the factors of attrition the so-called “secondary victimization” plays a significant role: appropriate measures are needed to counteract it. Supported by statistical data and aimed at developing proposals of reform the book represents a fundamental study in order to shape a legal framework that makes the protection of the victim and, as a consequence, the contrast to sexual offences more effective.
The investigation and prosecution of sexual crimes poses serious challenges to all criminal justice systems. It is indispensable to study comparative law in order to understand the merits and flaws in this regard of different legal systems. The many amendments made recently in the laws of various European States need to be examined closely by the others with a view to identifying whether they provide for better solutions to be “copied”. This book provides for this opportunity by reporting on many different European jurisdictions, including some which had so far been understudied in the literature. In addition, substantive and procedural law issues as well as structural problems are revealed to offer a wholistic understanding of where the problems lie. It is also clear that a proper response to the pressing issue tackled in this book has to be multi-layered and cannot be provided by law alone. This book duly takes into account the need to approach the issue from a multi-disciplinary perspective by dealing with extra-legal factors that have a reflection on the operation of the criminal justice system. It is to be hoped that all parties involved in responding to the problem of attrition in sexual crimes - and policy makers in particular - will draw lessons from the problems and solutions put forward in this timely collection.