Fire up the Quattro! Women’s rights are going back to the 1980s

Let’s support the survivors before protecting the perpetrators.

Nick Clegg said in the Commons last week that the government was facing ‘difficult dilemmas’ over perhaps the most controversial part of the coalition agreement, granting anonymity to defendants in rape cases. This has been a Lib Dem policy since 2006. Only 1 in 20 rapes are reported. Only 5% of all rapes reported to the police lead to a conviction, more than half of the cases that make it to trial result in the suspect being found guilty. The odds are already in favour of the perpetrator, why must they be further advantaged?

Defendant anonymity existed briefly from 1976 until it was abandoned in 1988 following a series of deeply critical reports. It was brought in when rape within marriage was not a crime, when it was standard judicial practice to require a witness to corroborate the story; one woman’s testimony could not be believed. This was an era where the establishment was overwhelmingly male and largely sexist. It deterred complainants, undermined survivors and impeded justice. Resurrecting it will undo all the work of women’s lobbies, charities, and criminal justice agencies who have ardently encouraged more women to bring allegations to the police.

Police and barristers are not, for the most part, advocating anonymity. They know releasing a name has led to the successful prosecution of rapists such as John Worboys. Seventy women felt able to come forward and testify against him, securing a conviction. Even Cameron’s suggestion to limit anonymity to between charging the accused and the case starting would prevent other women contributing to the prosecution. Women often expect to be treated badly by the justice system, to be treated like they’re on trial as the defence trawl through their sexual history, their alcohol intake and the clothes they were wearing. If the concern for innocent until proven guilty is so fundamental, this must also apply to the complainant.

Figures show that the number of false allegations for rape are no higher than for other crime, so why protect these men? It simply perpetrates the myth that women are liars. A vindictive minority is taken to be the norm. Treating rape as exceptional vilifies women. It is surely just as damaging to be accused of child abuse or hate crimes. As Harriet Harman said, ‘To single out rape defendants sends a very powerful message to juries in rape cases that the rape victim is not to be believed. It sends a devastating message to rape victims that uniquely of all victims they are not to be believed.’

Ms Harman is right, though her lexical choice is questionable. To label a woman ‘victim’ is to disempower her. To define her by what happened. She is  not a victim, she is a survivor.

It is a tragic irony that a law which primarily concerns a crime against women may be amended in a manner beneficial to men. This is symptomatic of the political establishment’s failure to understand and support women’s issues. Cuts to rape crisis centres are a damaging indication of a negligent attitude towards survivor support. From 68 there are now only 38 in the country which are gravely underfunded with a budget of just £3.5m between them. Before we improve the situation for men, let’s ensure that the system works for women. It is essential that the coalition honours its commitment to providing long-term, sustainable funding to rape crisis centres. It is vital that conviction rates are improved. It is imperative that survivors are supported.

2 Responses to Fire up the Quattro! Women’s rights are going back to the 1980s

  1. I’m surprised you’re bigging up Ms Harman as well.

    New Labour left this country in tatters. 1 trillion under ( near enough ), Draconian Laws, The Left of all people getting Draconian ( The Left who made The Human Rights Act and then rigged it to not be very reliable… ), massive wastage ( which suggests they did not know how to do it… ), Deception to gain office ( Spin ), and then rigging the education pass marks to be lower ( and how very dangerous that is ).

    Ms Harman personally tried to block the expenses scandal from being outed as well by the way.

    Speaking personally it’s obvious she couldn’t find her backside with both hands. And that, tied to 13 years of diabolical work, is why New Labour is a dead duck. The only decent one was Brown, and he was reliably out-voted by the looks of it.

    The Left is in tatters at present. Reality. And it was due to Blairites like Ms Harman. So why big her up when, once again, she’s just trying to allow lynchmobs in…

  2. Much as I agree rape crime figures are in a bad way I will remind you of 3 points:

    1) Innocent until proven guilty, and the risk of lynchmob. Which is very high in my experience.

    2) Sexism is illegal. So no, it’s not lawful to line a bloke up to be stabbed by the local Far Right on gossip if it turns out he is innocent. For example…

    3) Some women lie for other reasons. Not all rape claims are genuine. Fact. So of your 95% unreported how many are simply malicious gossip by ill/ violent women? Hopefully not many, but sadly there will be some. Fact. Some girls like to muddy the water. I have no idea why, but they do do it.

    This subject is really bloody simple. Stop fudging the laws that make it harder for the innocent to survive being hauled up ( men ), and start working on the science. To make it easier to catch the Bad-guy ( stereotypically and statistically ) CSI Style.

    And the Bad-girl should she turn out to be some kind of gangster/ girl-ganger.

    There have been recent cases in the news of innocent men being left very badly harmed by false allegations. Having to live in terror, 1 bloke dead. Real.

    All innocent…

    So let’s not start fudging the laws to allow mob rule eh? Let’s fix them so that it’s easier to catch a bad-guy. By, yup, you guessed it…

    - Women sobering the hell up more. You’re less vulnerable to a predator if you have your wits about you. Booze and ‘City Centre’ cock-ups are a lass being so stuffed she can’t spot it coming. Or she is too drunk to run. It doesn’t justify anything, but why take such a stupid risk in the first place? So inebriated you can’t walk properly etc etc.

    - The personal taser for the ladies. If it works then why not? Bad Guy limp in many ways then. I do like that one. If lasses are more empowered it’s less likely you’ll get panic and lynchmob.

    - Decent science to help catch the perps in the first place. Rather than reducing a conviction to a ride at the gee-gee’s based in a probability. The Law uses ‘facts’, not possibilities.

    We’re supposed to be moving forward. I’ve faced a paedo rumour. It was untrue, but I now live as a recluse. I was disabled when they did it to me as well. Messed me up a good’un. Not handy eh?

    Some parts of our society really are that nasty. Do not open the door to them.

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