Monday, 12 November 2007

Rape: Politcal Football?

Picking up on 'Call Me Dave' Cameron's recent statement in the news today, I became very annoyed.

I had a good chat with a friend of mine more in the know than me, but my views stayed mostly the same.

'Call Me' is calling for tougher rape laws and convictions.

Link, in case you're interested

He also mentions more rape centres, better sex education stuff like that. All good things. The country needs more support for the quite evil crime of rape. He then, however, goes back to this same old yawn-fest of 'moral collapse' and 'the sexualisation' of the modern day. Aside from the fact that this is sort of shite usually trotted out by Christians, it ruins his original point.

He's trotting out the same old Conservatism in new, hip-looking language. Increased sex education is a fantastic idea - but as my friend pointed out - what kind of sex education do you think the Tories will want to be given? Will it say 'Sex is great, have it with who you want and make sure both of you consent?' or rather, will it say 'Sex is best in marriage. Get married. Being married is great. Did we mention marriage is amazing?'. Exactly.

Cameron has tried to move his party's image away from traditional Conservatism, but the new would-be legislation including these ideas as well as tax breaks for married couples and the rest of their bullshit. Lest us not forget that rape within marriage has only recently (1991, for fuck's sake) became a crime. Whether attitudes have changed in time with the law is up for debate, but the Tories would love to push us back to this period of marriage above all. As things were perfect back then. Completely. Erm...

In the same way you can argue Brown/Blairites have done very little to help rape victims, being more concerned with trotting out rhetoric and political jargon. Hence the title of this entry - nobody is doing enough.

So, is changing rape laws as easy as Cameron makes it sound? Well, changing the laws (despite the fact that the Tories have veto-ed some of the measures to help rape victims) isn't a big problem, being mainly legislation. Changing people's opinions, however, is an altogether different animal.

It's a sad, but quite reasonable fact, that some rape victims either never had trust in the police. Others had a bit of trust which can be whittled away by poor treatment from the police. Most of the sources available to read are anonymous, anecdotal accounts, but the statistics of possible unreported rape seem to back up these opinions. If victims of this crime are not confident in reporting it to the police, this sets an unnerving precedent.

The views of the police are related to the public view of rape, of course, and Dave goes on to make the point that society is 'okaying' rape by 'sexualising' women. This is a tired old line, but one of his points was that young men thought forcing women to have sex was okay in some situations. He quoted an Amnesty International survey to back this up (I'd be interested to see how the survey collecting it's data but that's neither here nor there).

I sort of agree with this point, to a point. I think rape is still regarded as an horrific crime, however some people try to change the wording and take away from the seriousness in some cases - the 'she was gagging for it' defence. This kind of defence muddies the water and helps some people justify their actions, unfortunately.

This 'gagging for it' defence has a large effect on rape within the Judicial System. A lot of rape cases come down to one person's word against another's. Drink being involved only adds confusion to the case.

There's also the concept of people accusing people they've slept with of rape when rape didn't actually happen. Sex can be regrettable and it's a sad fact that some people accuse other people of rape falsely. I believe false accusations of rape should be dealt with to the full extent of the law - although it's clear this subject is a tricky one.

So, when a rape case is simply one person's word against that of another... I wouldn't want to be a juror or judge in a case like that, personally. One person says rape, one says consensual sex. Who is to believed if justice is to prevail?

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