Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mixed messages

A heartening story in the Guardian last Friday demonstrating that women who are raped shouldn't lose hope, and should report the crime to the police. And that rapists who haven't been caught yet should remember that highlighted word.

Then a less heartening report in the Guardian the following day. Accompanied by this case study.

I remain convinced that we need to get away completely from the idea of rape as a sex crime, something on a continuum with indecent exposure and making obscene phone calls. Rape should be seen as what it is, grievous bodily harm which happens to involve the sexual organs of one or more of the attacker or the victim. At a stroke it would take away the whole business of she-was-asking-for-it, what-did-she-expect-going-out-dressed-like-that and she-was-drunk-so-of-course he-shagged-her that seems so characteristic of public attitudes and hence of defence strategies. It wouldn't change the attitudes themselves, at least not quickly, but it would take them out of the courtroom and into the Daily Mail where they belong. If you treat rape as a crime of violence pure and simple you have to imagine a defence of "He was begging me to knife him", or "If you go out in a skirt that short of course someone will shoot you". (Sadly, a defence of "she was a prostitute so being sliced up is an occupational hazard" might still sway a British jury.)

Knowing that a rapist is on the Sex Offenders' Register and that I can find out if he moves into my area is less of a comfort that knowing that his address would be starting with a number and "HM Prison ______" for the foreseeable future.


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