Monday, 24 May 2010

Rape laws and the callous idiocy of anti-feminism

The new coalition government recently announced that men accused of rape would be granted the same anonymity as their accusers. As well as drawing the misogynistic wingnuts out of the woodwork, foaming, this decision highlights the gross distortionsagainst women in the debate on rape.

Anti-rape campaigners reacted angrilly to the announcement. Women Against Rape called it "an insult," whilst rape victim Jill Saward said it would "send a damaging message." The Guardian further adds that this "would run contrary to the findings of a recent landmark report into rape and the criminal justice system, which recommended that independent research should first be done into the scale and nature of false rape allegations."


A recent survey by Amnesty International found that 30% of the British public felt a woman was partially or totally responsible for being raped if drunk, 26% thought so if she had been wearing revealing clothing, 34% if she was being flirty, and 22% if she had had many sexual partners. The full report (Word) is shocking, but sadly not surprising.

The right-wing and tabloid media have cultivated this attitude. Stories of false rape accusations outweigh stories of rape on a level completely disproportionate to actual incidence.

To take the Sun as an example, the bias is so overwhelming as to be obvious. "Woman's rape lie led to suicide," "'Too drunk' rape trial: chef Peter Bacon is cleared," and "Jack Tweed: I'm scared to have sex" are just a couple of examples. Their coverage of the new proposals includes an argument in their favour from previously falsely-accused Christine Hamilton, but no corresponding argument against.

To be fair, there are corresponding stories from the point of view of rape victims, but the volume and the editorial weight is clearly tipped towards the stories of women making flase accusations. The Sun's "Woman" section is leading a "Stop Rape Now" campaign, but this appears not to intrude on the propagandistic suggestions that women are making false accusations against men en masse. Indeed, the outrage this way appears to only be against what Whoopi Goldberg qualified as "rape-rape."

Proof in such an utterly batshit-crazy belief lies, as with so many insanities, in the words of Melanie Phillips;
Even before tomorrow's Queen's Speech, our new Lib-Con coalition has achieved a palpable hit. It has upset the feminist Sisterhood.

For this we must all give thanks. After the long years of Labour's Harman Terror, during which extreme man-hating feminism seemed to carry all before it, any sign that common sense may at last be reasserting itself is more than welcome.

...

It is, of course, an article of faith among such activists that women who claim they have been raped never lie because all men accused of rape are guilty.

This despite the steady stream of cases in which men have been found not guilty after the evidence against them has fallen apart in court, either because it is demonstrably false and malicious or merely flimsy and ambiguous.

...

Despite such instances, however, the certainty that all men accused of rape are guilty drove government policy during virtually the whole 13 years of Labour rule.

The cry of feminist activists both in and out of government has been throughout that the rape conviction rate, at a paltry 6 per cent, is too low.

But that figure is deeply misleading because it includes all reports of rape, regardless of whether the prosecution service deems them to be well enough founded to be brought to court.

In fact, of those rape defendants who are tried nearly 60 per cent are convicted  -  a higher conviction rate than for other violent attacks.

Furthermore, many acquittals occur because, with casual sex now so common, it has become much more difficult for a jury to decide beyond reasonable doubt whether the sexual encounter in question was consensual or not.

In other words, juries are simply doing their job properly at a time of profound social change.

Nevertheless, feminist activists claim, perversely, that the acquittal rate demonstrates bias against women  -  and have accordingly tried vindictively to load the judicial dice against men. 
It doesn't take a genius to realise that Mad Mel is, once again, attacking a strawman. The left-wing demons in her head do not often correlate to any kind of reality. It is also misleading, suggesting both that the rape conviction rate is much higher than suggested and that there is an anti-male agenda which ruins the lives of countless falsely accused.

The idea that there is a 60% rape conviction rate is shown up as a nonsense just on the fact that at least 75% of rape victims never go to the police (PDF). That alone tells you that there is something wrong with the way we treat the victims of this most horrendous crime. But there's more. The 60% figure should actually be 58%, coming from the "landmark report" by Baroness Stern mentioned earlier.

And even then it is misleading;
Ministry of Justice records show that in 2008 only 38% of rape cases won a conviction for rape itself. Alternative convictions were generally for offences such as sexual assault or sexual activity with a child under 16 – a much easier charge to prove because consent is not an issue. But they could also include non-sexual crimes such as a violent attack that was part of the incident, although the Crown Prosecution Service said this was highly unlikely to occur.

Alternative convictions could come about because of a plea bargain, where a rape or – more likely – attempted rape charge is dropped after a defendant offers to plead guilty to a lesser sexual offence, or because the jury is given two alternative charges and convicts on the lesser one, acquitting the defendant of rape.
According to the British Crime Survey report, Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence 2006/07, 1 in 20 women have been raped since they were 16, with 1 in 200 in the 12 months. before the survey. This suggests that 85,000 women in England and Wales are raped each year , equivalent to 230 a day. When the number of men convicted of rape is fewer than 800 a year, the idea that there is "a higher conviction rate [for rape] than for other violent attacks" is ludicrous.

Johann Hari made the point starkly back in 2007;
In Britain today, rape has become an almost unpunished crime. Fly-tipping, shop-lifting, cannabis-smoking - all are dealt with more stringently than forcing a woman into sex and forcing her mind into meltdown.

This sounds impossible, but the cool hard academic studies show it starkly: fewer than 1 in 100 rapists now end up behind bars. A British man has to rape over 50 women before it becomes statistically probable he will be sent to prison. As the feminist campaigner Julie Bindel puts it, "rape might as well be legal".
The reasons lie not just in the attitudes that the Amnesty survey described above found, but in the procedures followed by the legal system. As Hari continues;
At the moment, astonishingly, the first time a raped woman sees the lawyers who are meant to be making her case is when she enters the witness stand. As one friend of mine who went through a rape trial says: "He got a year with his lawyers to polish his performance, and I didn't even get 20 minutes to talk over what had happened to me."

But we can't focus only on the problems in the courtroom, because very few rapists ever get that far. The first time a victim describes her ordeal is very often to a rape hotline, so they are in a unique position to help women go to the police - but many are going bust. In 1985, there were 68 women-only rape crisis centres or helplines in Britain. Today, there are only 32 - and they are closing at a rate of two a month, according to the Survivors Trust.

And if they embolden a woman to come forward? The Crown Prosecution Service has to choose to take the case to court. One sexual liaison officer described in a recent Home Office study how the CPS would drop a case "before even the toxicology reports had come back form the lab", adding, "I just feel that the CPS give up too easily, too soon".

There are thousands of cases to back this claim up. In 1998, a school janitor in Grimsby seized a 15-year-old girl, dragged her into an alley and sexually assaulted her. The CPS didn't pursue it. His name? Ian Huntley.
At this point I should note that I am not calling for hysteria. Having argued strongly against the lynch mob mentality before, I have no intention on going back on that point. However, it should go without saying that we do not face a choice between picking up a pitchfork and treating victims as less than nothing. This is a simple matter of perspective. Yes, if women make false accusations, with malicious intent, there should be consequences. But the need to redress a system in which "rape might as well be legal" is a far more pressing concern.

That this latter, far more widespread, problem is being largely ignored is an inescapable condemnation of both the incumbent government and the media which promotes this agenda.