False rape accusations are incredibly rare. The best numbers available show this. But, the old narrative of women lying about rape is still quite prevalent. More often than I’d like to admit, I see people on Facebook sharing right-wing memes that advocate that false accusations should be punished.
Except, false accusations are already punished. Harshly.
In The New York Times, Ken Armstrong and T. Christian Miller wrote a great piece detailing how police nationwide have brought charges against women who have been accused of false rape accusations. The women were later vindicated when the men they accused ended up being charged for raping other people.
The police made decisions to charge these women based on small inconsistencies in their stories. Sadly, inconsistencies from accusers is very common when dealing with people who experienced extreme trauma.
It goes without saying that people who intentionally falsely accuse someone of a crime should be punished in some way. Further, despite false rape accusations being incredibly rare, some do exist (although not many). But, given all we know about the prevalence of sexual assault in the United States, the focus on the small number of false accusations is perplexing.