Posts Tagged ‘rape’

Labour must stand up for victims of sexual and domestic violence

29/01/2013, 10:30:08 AM

by Sarah Rabbitts

Many of us are still shocked by the brutal abduction, gang rape and murder of a female student on a bus in Delhi.

And closer to home, we’re also coming to terms with NSPCC’s confirmation that Jimmy Savile, was “without doubt one of the most prolific sex offenders we have ever come across”. The “Giving victims a voice” report states that Savile repeatedly abused girls, women and boys over six decades. The abuses happened in 13 hospitals, 14 schools and on BBC premises – institutions that should have been a safe place for both children and adults. Most worryingly, none of the victims or witnesses successfully exposed Savile’s widespread criminality before his death in 2011.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper responded to the report by asking for a proper overarching review led by child protection experts into why everyone failed to stop Savile and what should be done now”. However, it is not only people in positions of influence who are a problem.

Last week, the ministry of defence, home office and office for national statistics released a joint review into rape and sexual assaults. This damning review states that only one in ten victims will report a sexual assault in this country, despite 90% of victims knowing the perpetrator. It also has to be a wake-up call for the home secretary that only 15,670 rapes are reported each year which only equates to a quarter of victims. In simple terms, this means that on average 47,010 rapes aren’t reported.

What these reports demonstrate is that first, a staggering number of women and men are still victims of sexual assault and that second, the British judicial system continues to generate very few convictions.

On the 14th February, or V-Day, a campaign called one billion rising will actively demand an end to violence against women across the world. They ask women to walk out, dance, rise up and demand an end to this violence by activating women and men across every country to organise local events. (more…)

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Dominique Strauss-Kahn is innocent

25/08/2011, 01:30:24 PM

by Dan Hodges

Was Dominique Strauss-Kahn on trial for rape? Or was he on trial for being a banker?

I ask that question because on Tuesday he was declared innocent of all charges, and freed. At least, I thought he’d been declared innocent. That was the story I read in the news reports. But the commentary that followed told a different tale.

In a nutshell: he did it. Forget the evidence. Or lack of it. Forget the fact that the case was so flimsy it never even got within a hundred miles of a jury. Forget ludicrously outdated concepts like presumption of innocence until proof of guilt. The guy’s a rapist. And he got away scott-free.

“What occurred in room 2806 will never be known”, wrote Hadley Freeman in the Guardian, before adding, “What has been proved, on an international scale, is that only women who have led lives as sheltered as Rapunzel and have memory recall as robotic as computers are capable of being raped. The rest are money-grabbing sluts with vaginal bruising”. (more…)

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There’s no excuse. Ken Clarke should be sacked.

21/05/2011, 10:30:40 AM

by Dennis Kavanagh

It’s 1991. A young and charismatic Bill Clinton indicates that he will seek the nomination of the Democrat party for president; the Super Nintendo is launched; the first gulf war is in full swing and good old Lord Lane in the UK abolishes the “anachronistic and offensive” marital rape exemption in R v R.

Shocked? Don’t be. The current rape debate really is taking place in a country where you could quite lawfully rape your wife up until the invention of 16 bit gaming technology. While Bush Snr was threatening to bomb Sadaam back to the stone age, Fred Flinstone sexual values were in full swing over in Blighty. Little surprise, then, that the backdrop to the latest discussion over rape takes place in a country where around 60,000 women are raped every year – the majority by partners or men they know – and only a tiny fraction, around one in ten, report it to the police. Of these few cases, less than 7% result in conviction according to rape crises England and Wales.

Rape and offences of assault by penetration are in this unique position because they’re often difficult evidentially. They’re not taken seriously and a set of myths have grown up around rape that make securing convictions the exception rather than the rule.


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All men are potential rapists

20/05/2011, 05:45:33 PM

by Alex Hilton

There has been a huge fuss over Ken Clarke’s suggestion that there are different levels of seriousness of rape. In calling for the justice secretary’s resignation over the issue, Ed Miliband was telling us that his interest in headline chasing came above getting to the root of rape.

Whether we like it or not, and the justice system recognised this in sentencing and in parole criteria throughout the last government, there are different levels of seriousness of rape. There are also different levels of seriousness in murder, manslaughter, burglary and a range of crimes.

To say this is not the same as suggesting that the “less” serious form of rape isn’t serious at all; simply that a crime that is serious can be made worse depending on the level of brutality.

Our society’s approach to rape is one of the clearest indications of the extent to which we still live in a patriarchy. Estimates of the number of women raped each year range from 47,000 to 85,000 but we have only a 6% conviction rate of those reported.

The media interest in false allegations of rape so excessively outweighs rape itself that there is a real movement to protect the anonymity of those accused. Yet in trial, despite reforms in recent years, there is no other crime where the victim’s victimhood is so comprehensively scrutinised and tested.


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Kate Williams wonders why the new government’s first thoughts are for those accused of rape

24/05/2010, 02:15:19 PM

The first thrust of the Coalition – their gauntlet on the flagstone – has been to bestow the right of anonymity on those accused of rape.  Had I been a skipping, Pollyanna type, with a cheery ‘let’s see what they come up with first before passing judgment’ approach to this government – then this would have been my scales/eyes moment.

My first instinct was to blink rapidly and rifle through both parties’ manifestos for the paragraph I must have missed; then to shake the shoulders of those who Went Over, wailing “Look what you’ve done! They have chosen as their flagship policy one which declares that women lie about rape – and so easily and habitually that men accused of it need structural protection!”

So clunkingly inept is this policy that it’s tempting to imagine it has been pulled, at random, from the big LibCon lucky dip barrel.  But to do so would be to underestimate the Clegg-Cameron endeavour.  This ain’t no accident – it’s a marker, a line in the sand.

The reasons that rape victims have historically been protected by anonymity are so crashingly obvious that I’m embarrassed to rehearse them here. If you’ve ever given more than a passing thought to gender politics, do feel free to skip this next bit. (more…)

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