Lara Williams is a writer and copywriter from Manchester. She’s also dumb as a fencepost, but when was that ever a bar to being wheeled out to pontificate in CiF?
She manages to set the tone with her very first few sentences:
You might assume survivors of rape…
… need all the support that society, and indeed their government, can afford them. And yet, Ken Clarke on Wednesday delivered a special kind of blow to those already down, with his astonishing statement that some rapes were more serious than others.
I volunteered as a telephone counsellor for three years at Manchester Rape Crisis and we were never required to treat survivors of rape differently.
Well, there’s a shock, eh? I expect if you joined the Samaritans, they wouldn’t tell you to treat calls differently either, even though it’s not the case that 100% of callers intend to kill themselves.
“Date rape” is already a woefully misleading and loaded term, and it must not be characterised as a less serious crime. Instances of date rape are already received with dismissive attitudes, which often seem to imply “oh well, she probably regretted it the next day”, or insinuations that by eating opposite someone in a restaurant, you somehow offered your unbridled sexual consent.
No-one believes that and no-one would insinuate it, either, unless they were a total moron. If the best you can do is build a strawman…
Disassociating one type of rape from another removes a small comfort many survivors have – they are not alone; shattering their experiences into “levels of seriousness” in the public discourse removes a unity survivors can draw strength from.
What’s more important – ensuring that the criminal justice system punishes offences in a proportionate way, or that cozy little victim groups get to console each other?
Clarke made these comments as part of a proposal to increase rape convictions…
Which is a nonsense, because, once stripped of all the political and single-issue group tinkering, the rate holds up very well against other crimes.
Clarke is calling for reduced sentencing for those pleading guilty. Are lesser sentences for rapists pleading guilty the most pressing area in need of change within rape trials and investigations? Why not propose extended sentences for those convicted who didn’t plead guilty?
Because they might have pleaded not guilty because they aren’t guilty, despite the judgement of the jury. Or have you forgotten about all those famous miscarriages of justice that the ‘Guardian’ bleats about constantly?
Or address a dismissive and sceptical bureaucracy in which women saying they have been raped are largely doubted?
Do you know why this attitude persists? It persists because there’s a lot of evidence that we’re right to doubt a lot of cases.
“It’s very frustrating to sit and listen to pundits talking about the low number of rape convictions in Court, when as police officers we all know what lies behind these poor numbers.
For example, I couldn’t possibly tell you that out of every ten rapes which are reported in Ruraltown, at least eight turn out to be nonsense. To be fair, eight out of ten of everything reported at Ruraltown police station is nonsense, why should rape be any different?
I couldn’t tell you that of the remaining two, an existing alcohol-fuelled chaotic drug-based relationship is a factor in at least one of these, and ‘consent’ is probably present in the other to some degree. In my whole service I can only recall three stranger rapes and a half a dozen where consent was withdrawn at the time and he carried on. But I can’t tell you that.”
You know, Lara, the police don’t have infinite resources. And if they have to waste them on allegations like these, who do you think is going to suffer?
“So who suffers when Charlene drops by the nick to accuse Wayne of raping her because she is hacked off that he used her child benefit money for drugs? Who suffers when we deploy a full investigation team, send officers out to arrest Wayne and deploy CSI’s and specialist rape officers to the victim suite, all for Charlene to suddenly decide that she loves him and he didn’t do it after all? Who loses when she can’t identify a scene (because there never was a scene) when we can see on CCTV that Wayne was in the High Street (on his own) at the material time and that her mobile phone records show that she was texting her mate who works at Tesco, right at the time she was supposed to be being brutally taken by the boy?
The next genuine rape victim to walk into the police station, that’s who. The next genuine victim who may face the cynical looks and delayed reaction from officers who have just finished dealing with the last ten Charlenes.
I also shouldn’t tell you that it is Force Policy, in all but the most exceptional cases, not to prosecute Charlene for wasting police time. Apparently this would prevent genuine victims from coming forward. Make no mistake, the genuine victims suffer, the detection rate is low and we keep pretending that everything is alright.”
But you’ll no doubt dismiss this as yet another instance of ‘the system’ being biased against women, won’t you?
One of the reasons why I eventually stopped volunteering with Rape Crisis is because at the end of one phone call, there is always another. And another. And another.
Oh, you poor love! Did you think that once you’d settled your bum on a comfy chair, armed yourself with a big mug of coffee and some biscuits, listened sympathetically a few times and said ‘there, there…’ when appropriate, it’d all be sorted out? There’d be no more rapes, ever again?
It strikes me that the reason we can no longer have a sensible debate about this subject is not so much the cold, calculating political machinations of the likes of Vera Baird and Harriet Harman, but because of the hysterical, unreasoning, unwilling to see the truth stance of the Laras of this world…