A third of people still think rape isn’t rape unless it has involved violence.

Despite the rise of the #MeToo campaign, the politicians speaking up about their own experiences in parliament and victims finding their voices, the message that no means no is not getting through,  a study reveals.

Worse still, the culture of blame remains, with women being among the most judgmental.

Nearly one-quarter – 21 per cent - of female respondents in a major new survey think that if a women flirts on a date then generally what happens next should not count as rape.

That rises to 33% among men. 

And the same number also believe that a woman cannot change her mind after sex has started.

The findings, released today by the End Violence Against Women (EVAW)
Coalition, come as thousands of people get ready to take to the pubs and clubs of Scotland for the festive period.

Many instances of sexual violence are caused by the victim’s partner. The 2013 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey found 83% who people who had experienced serious sexual assault said they knew the offender in some way. Over half (54%) said that the perpetrator was their partner.

Rachel Krys, co-director of EVAW, said: “These figures are alarming because they show that a huge proportion of adults in Britain – who make up juries in rape trials – are still very unclear about what rape is.

“It is known that the vast majority of women who are raped know the person who raped them, but for many people, the most commonly understood scenario is a single violent incident of rape committed by a stranger on a dark street. This could help explain why juries are so reluctant to convict particularly younger men where consent is in question.

“There has been a huge increase in the number of women reporting rape and sexual violence to the police and seeking support from specialist rape support organisations. #MeToo has shone a light on the scale of sexual violence, and more women are seeking justice. 

“Yet as a society we are failing to respond to this call for help, and this year the number of cases being taken forward by police and the courts fell.”

Almost 4000 people took part in the survey conducted by YouGov and EVAW to examine why rape is still so difficult to tackle at a time when reports are increasing.

Ms Krys believes that the results clearly show the need for a complete review of how both the police and the courts deal with victims of rape.

“We’ve learned this year that the system which is supposed to prosecute rapists and provide justice for victims is failing badly,” she said.

“In spite of a huge rise in the number of women reporting, far fewer rapists are being charged or ending up in court. For too many women, justice is not an option open to them.

“We need an independent end-to-end review of how the police and courts tackle rape, from the first report to sentencing and parole.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “While awareness of gender-based violence has undoubtedly increased over recent years, this survey shows there is still a need for improving understanding, and we are happy to play a part in that process.

“Last year we funded a high-profile public awareness campaign led by Rape Crisis Scotland to tackle the misconceptions about how victims respond to rape and sexual assault. The I Just Froze campaign addresses the myth there is a right or wrong way for people to react during or after an attack. 

“The Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Act also introduced statutory jury directions in certain sexual offences trials to address issues related to how juries perceive any delays in reporting of sexual offences and help them understand the entirely normal reactions victims of these horrendous crimes can experience.”