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UK News

Christian campaigner says congregations need to address 'men's sexual entitlement'

by Donna Birrell

A Christian women's rights campaigner says congregations need to talk openly about sexual attitudes and how women are treated in society.

Natalie Collins was speaking as a government review has found the number of rape convictions is at its lowest level since records began, despite reports almost doubling since 2015.

Fewer than two percent of rape and attempted rape cases in England and Wales result in a charge.

It recommends a "cultural and systematic change" to the judicial service to make it less traumatic for victims.

Speaking to Premier, Natalie Collins says that Christians need to reflect more on how women are treated in society: "We have a responsibility to look at where are we perpetuating some of the narratives around men's sexual entitlement and how can we work to address those in our preaching, in our small groups, in our marriage preparation and marriage enrichment classes. And in our teaching and working with young people and children as well.

"So we have a responsibility as Christians to recognise that this is a culture that we have a responsibility to address internally as well.  I think there is this reluctance to approach sexual violence, and to recognise this is a huge issue, because actually, it's really terrifying to accept that this isn't just a tiny issue that hardly affects anybody."

Natalie, who is also the author of a book about gender entitled "Out of Control", says it is very difficult for victims of rape to navigate the criminal justice system: "Those of us who've been working in the sector know just how hard it is for women to access justice through the criminal justice system. 

"We live in a misogynistic, sexist society. Across society, we have all of these myths and misconceptions about the responsibility that women have and the lack of responsibility that men have. And so while it's easy for us to kind of all shake our heads and be horrified at the criminal justice system, actually, this is about all of us who could end up sat on a rape trial, and how likely we would be to see that the man is at fault. And that the woman is the victim, which is often why we're dealing with the challenges that we are."

Natalie says the lack of rape convictions is shocking but not surprising. She says the situation could be helped if more women held senior positions within the criminal justice system and the government: "If we don't have women in significant positions, in authority it's very easy for this horrific issue to not be on the agenda." 

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