[DEBATE] : Rape & this List
david.renton at sunderland.ac.uk
Fri Apr 21 15:02:29 BST 2006
You ask why more men haven't commented on this issue: just speaking
for myself, when I saw the early emails which seemed to me to come
close to arguing that the chief problem was one of men being wrongly
accused of rape - I found them so horrible and just plain hostile to
the condition of oppressed people that I stopped reading the other
postings, and for a couple of weeks deleted unread everything I got
from the list. As people have said - I wouldn't be interested in a
discussion of race that ignored the power dynamics - and I wasn't
interested in a discussion of rape which seemed to do that to. I may
be being unfair to people, that's just how it seemed to me.
It's only in the last week that I've started reading again.
I've thought about posting on the British experience, where our
convictions rate are probably just as low as they are in SA, and
possibly for similar reasons.
Most striking of all the conviction rate of rape cases in court is
actually falling - from around 33% in 1977 to 5% today. If you think
that the vast majority of cases don't make it to court, or that many
cases here are settled with the rapist receiving only a caution (ie
neither a prison sentence nor a fine) - 5% is truly a scandal.
What it means in practice is that around 60,000 women a year tell
investigators from the British Crime Survey that they have been raped
in the previous year (source:
http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs2/r159.pdf) and around 600-700
men are annually convicted (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4296433.stm).
We've never had a law recognising rape in marriage - that came through
a test case as recently as 1991. There have been a number of attempts
to lobby for legal changes that would make it easier for women to
bring cases. For example, the government introduced in 1999 a law to
make it more difficult for defence teams to cross-examine the victims
on their previous sexual history, which is evidently a key tactic
(working by the sort of logic that goes if a woman has had more than
one previous sexual partner then that woman evidently consented on
this occasion to sex with this man).
The courts actually ruled that such provisions - which in this case,
worked to defend the victim - were contrary to UK human rights laws.
I don't have any solution to how the conviction rate could be
increased, although again some recent research has shown that
convictions rates within different uk countries vary from as 'high' as
13.8% in some UK countries to as low as 0.86% percent in others. IE
even in a common legal system, with the same rules and the same
culture dominated by the same 50-something white male judges, there
are still considerable differences. In fact, if you think about the
counties concerned (Northamptonshire and Golucestershire) they're not
any striking reasons why the rates should be different: both are
monocultural, white counties, each is about as urban as the other,
there is no particular better history of women's campaigning in one
county than the other.
The report I'm alluding to is here:
http://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/index.asp?PageID=239. It's also the
source for my comment about men being released on cautions after
accepting that they have committed rape.
I don't have any answers at all. But a useful starting point would be
if people began by recognising that rape exists, that millions of
women experience it, and that it is a horrible, demeaning thing. If
people started from there, then maybe their later insights would be
---- Original Message -----
>From "Charlene Smith" <clsmith at global.co.za>
Date Fri, 21 Apr 2006 13:03:38 +0200
To "debate: SA discussion list " <debate at lists.kabissa.org>
Subject [DEBATE] : Rape & this List
It interests me greatly that the most anger is generated on this list
when the rights of women are debated. It concerns me how few men
speak in support of the rights of women, and how most of those who
speak spend so much time justifying aspects that limit women's rights,
that ensure that abuse is not actively pursued and eradicated.
It is precisely the silence, or equivocation among most men that
allows abuse and such appalling rape statistics in our country and
elsewhere to be so endemic.
Would we use the same arguments to justify a racist attack? No we
wouldn't we'd be falling over ourselves collectively to express
disgust and dismay.
But not so when it comes to the rights of women.
And here we supposedly have on this list, some of the most
educated, 'enlightened' and erudite men in the world.
No wonder women and childrens rights are in such trouble.
fax and phone +27.11.646 7637
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