Monday, June 25, 2007

On rape

It was just last week that the New Statesman carried an article from the ever readable Kira Cochrane on the disgracefully low conviction rates in rape cases.

I was appalled to read first of all that a rapist has around a one percent chance of conviction. Even more so when I read that police believe the number of false allegations to stand at 23 percent. If this is not evidence enough of the reactionary and misogynist mentality of the institutions which are supposed to protect us, today we are greeted with the news of convicted rapist whose sentence will probably see him serve two months in prison. Two months for raping a ten-year-old girl.

Now this might seem a quirk, an anomaly, perhaps an aberration, until we read what the presiding judge had to say.

"Judge Hall said in sentencing he faced a moral dilemma as the fact they had sex within 45 minutes of meeting was an absolute crime.

But he said the girl had dressed provocatively and looked as though she was 16."

This is how his remarks are relayed on the BBC website so they are not verbatim. I will concede that I don't fully follow the first sentence in the quote. The second is a little easier to condemn. By what standard had she dressed provocatively? On whose evidence? Presumably the judge didn't have access to pictures. Followed by the staple, "She looked 16, m'lud!"

There would appear to be a form of Tourette's that is confined to the section of the population deemed experienced and sentient enough to pass judgement on us humble serfs. Why, why, why someone tell me is it ever necessary for a judge to comment in such a way. He wasn't there. Who is the arbiter of fashion whom provides such convincing empirical evidence that judges are moved to proclaim with absolute certainty that "she was asking for it!" Even if a number if witnesses agreed that a person was "dressed provocatively", what in the name of fuck has it to do with anything? Are we as humans not responsible for our actions, even allowing for our too-big adrenaline glands? It's not, dear reader, in any way more acceptable than the rantings of the worst sort of Muslim fundamentalist woman oppressor. Why do they seek at all to find excuses in these cases? I'd like nothing better than to see these two antediluvian troglodytes return to whichever epoch they escaped from.

Dr Michele Elliott, director of Kidscape, said the decision had left her speechless. "It takes us back to the 1950s when the victim was blamed if they were dressed provocatively." How grim that her words are perhaps more prescient than she realises when we consider the statistics Cochrane highlights in her article:

"we've seen the conviction rate plummet from 33 per cent in the 1970s, to 24 per cent in 1985, to a negligible 5.3 per cent today."


At 2:47 pm , Blogger Frank & sisters said...

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Thanks Frank


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