Police back Cosmo bid to launch rape hotline

Cosmo: plans to help victims

Cosmopolitan has joined forces with the Metropolitan Police in a bid to launch the UK’s first national 24-hour helpline to support rape victims.

It is the latest development in Cosmo’s campaign, which has won support from the Home Office.

Cosmo has linked up with the Met’s trained rape squad Project Sapphire and is also in talks with the Daily Mirror to raise the £500,000 needed to set up the dedicated helpline.

Editor Lorraine Candy said: “I was really surprised when I joined Cosmo by the number of letters we got from women who had been raped or asking us if they’d been drug raped. Every time we did a feature we got more and more letters and what they were telling us is, ‘we’ve got nowhere to go with this, we don’t want to go the police, we just need some advice’.” Cosmo launched its campaign in February. A survey conducted by the magazine showed that at least 25 per cent of its readers had been victims of rape and it has published a number of harrowing first person accounts.

It is now fighting for legislative change, helping victims become less frightened of the legal system and increasing the number of specialised rape centres across the UK.

“We have been very straight-talking and we explain it in a way women understand. It’s not a political issue for us and it’s not a man-hating thing, it’s about women and what they have been through,” said Candy.

“I’ve worked on tabloids, broadsheets and other big glossies and I have never had a response like we do with these rape features. We are inundated with letters and women are desperate for a helpline. It’s not going to sell us any more copies but I feel a moral responsibility to help women feel a bit better about what they have been through.”

Cosmo has received more than 200 letters from rape victims in the last three months.

“You get a lot of letters as a magazine editor, but to keep getting them in the relentless way we were was really upsetting,” she said.

Following a meeting in March, Home Secretary David Blunkett has agreed to support the campaign and said he would look at partly funding it.

“His advisers came into the office and I think seeing just how many letters we get suddenly struck home with them that something needs to be done,” she told Press Gazette.

By Ruth Addicott

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