Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The Rape Debate

You may have missed the recent case in the press regarding rape allegations. A woman made an allegation of rape on the basis that she consented to sex but told the man involved that he mustn't ejaculate inside her. He told her would if he wanted to and did just that. Prosecutors decided that they could not charge him as the man's action could have been spontaneous and the decision beyond the point of no return, so to speak. The woman challenged the prosecutors decision in the High Court and the learned judges have decided that breaking conditions placed on intercourse can amount to rape. They have ordered the prosecution to review its decision.

Rape allegations already cause significant debate and not inconsiderable hysteria. The usual, and sensible, argument of innocent until proven guilty doesn't seem apply to rape allegations. All men accused of rape are guilty and must be convicted, according to some. Some feminists and pressure groups are campaigning for the law to be changed; to reduce the burden of proof in rape cases; to upturn the law so that the defendant must prove that consent was given.

When most people think of rape they think of a woman walking alone down a street and an attacker forcing them into an alleyway or something similar. The truth is that the vast majority of rape allegations involve someone known to the victim. It may be a family member or friend. It is often a man met in a pub or club. The most common scenario is one where a woman meets a man and, after a few drinks, agrees to go somewhere with him and sexual intercourse takes place. The critical point to prove will be, was consent given? It can be very difficult to prove that consent was not given.

I saw another interesting article yesterday. After six months in post as HMIC, Tom Winsor has decided that, in these times of austerity, the police should focus their energies on crime prevention rather than catching offenders. Most of us who have been in the job for a while understand that crime prevention was always the first of Robert Peels nine principles of policing.

Crime prevention is good. I think though that Peel's vision of prevention was having a visible policing presence looking for potential crime and criminals. It was also catching offenders and a justice system that imposed negative consequences. In the case of prolific offenders or serious crime it probably also included incarcerating them, thereby protecting society from their offending. I wrote an article about our ineffective justice system. How the police have withdrawn from the streets. How victims are blamed for offences against them. How the justice system fails to punish offenders and in fact rewards them. I won't go on about it again. You can read it here if you wish.

Mr Winsor's advice simply confirms everything that I said in my article. We can no longer afford to protect the public. All we can do is tell them to get a house alarm, window locks, 5 lever dead locks on the doors. Don't leave valuables on display in, and lock, your cars. Don't walk around in public using expensive phones, iPods, laptops Etc. If you ignore this advice then it is your fault for being so stupid when your property is stolen or you are assaulted.

None of this crime prevention advice will apply to rape victims however. If we dared to tell women what to wear. If we dared to suggest they don't get drunk. If we dare tell them not to get in a taxi with someone they have just met, we will be met by abuse and rage from some quarters. Suggesting that women behave in a particular way to protect themselves is an abuse of their right of freedom to express themselves and men have just got to learn to respect that. If only these freedoms applied to all crimes.

For the record I believe that if any man rapes a woman; whether they are drunk or not; whatever they are wearing and however stupid they may have been; he deserves to have his appendage removed or whatever prison sentence comes to him. I don't believe that woman need to appear in public with nothing more than their eyes showing to enable men to keep control of themselves. But I have seen too many hungover young men arrested and put through the mill because a woman was unsure as to whether or not she had consented to sex the night before.

If we are now saying that women can be raped if men breach conditions of sex then it is even more important that the usual safeguards and protections in place for defendants are kept in place. Reducing the burden of proof or bringing about proof of consent by defendants will bring about injustices just as perverse as guilty rapists going free.



  1. Unsure as to how to call this but here goes - Fulford and Sweeney are not the sharpest tools in the box. Your colleagues (I speak of some constabularies if not all) see rape as an "easy collar" - you already have a name so it is a matter of framing him. What the Great British public object to is anonymity for wimmin but not defendants - look at R v Blackwell R v Donnellan and the cases of Shannon Taylor, Emma Blunden and Rosie Dodd - if rapists deserve castration false rape accusers deserve ?

  2. Like flies round shit didn't you know this post would attract Colonel "DNA" Rehill.

  3. Your cogent comment WPC Jade illuminates the page. Scuse me as I must write to my pen pal David Beiber;)

  4. What a Cock Up30 April, 2013 18:15

    Yes your honour, she did say I could only put half of it in, but she didn't specify which half.

  5. Excuse me DNA giver,as I must write to my pen pal Simon Harwood.

  6. @ WC Jaded.
    The consistency found in your comments is almost an acceptable substitute for talent.

  7. Thanks for the compliment Melvin.
    PS It's well past April 24th and here I still am.What was that all about?

  8. An oncoming train presents an image as tiny as the brain refusing to make way for it.

  9. Learned Council06 May, 2013 18:41

    He failed with his petition on the 24th and so you won't hear any more about that.

  10. Thanks LC, I haven't been able to sleep for weeks worrying about Melvins revenge.
    He would make an ideal politician as he doesn't answer a straight question.Unfortunately for him the voters of Yorkshire realised he was a delusional buffoon.

  11. @ Learned 'Council'

    Gosh, I did fail dismally. So is hacking combined with voyeurism the new nadir for plod standards, old 'buoy'?

  12. Learned Council06 May, 2013 23:12

    @ Jaded48 - he could always stand for UKIP

    @ Dr MTG - I am sure a clever chap like you can work that one out.

  13. What a Cock Up07 May, 2013 22:53

    Sexsomnia - seems to be a defence of last resort for those up against it.

  14. This is one of the few things i don't know where I stand on. It isn't right that women do that.

  15. "If we are now saying that women can be raped if men breach conditions of sex".. then we are starting to move in the right direction, towards an understanding that "yes means Yes" - i.e. you presume there is no consent unless positive consent is given, rather than assuming that consent is (or should be) given unless someone explicitly says no. This is the problem with the kind of victim blaming which goes on in rape cases - assumptions are made that dressing or acting in a particular way = consent.
    Of course, in a lot of crimes, there are things which people can do or not do which my put them at greater risk, but that does not mean that they are to blame if a crime is committed. Leaving my door unlocked may be unwise, and may increase the risk of my house being burgled, but it doesn't make the thief any less to blame. And if the thief is a friend or family member then the state of the door is irrelevant in any case.

    Crime prevention is great, but it only works some of the time, and at the point where it fails, and a crime is committed, the focus should move away from 'could the victim have done more to prevent crime' and on to 'how can the criminal be caught and stopped?' One of the problems with rape cases is that that move of focus doesn't happen. Even at trial, you still hear the victim being blamed.

    With rape it is even more difficult because there are so many 'risky behaviors' that it is pretty much impossible to avoid them all. The only common factor in all rapes is that there is a person who choses to sexually assault / rape someone who has not given their consent to that kind of sexual activity. .

    In this instance, the man involved had the choice to say he did not want to have sex under the conditions set by his partner. He chose not to do so, and instead did something which he knew (because it had been explicitly stated) that she did not consent to. If he couldn't control whether or not he ejacualated, or if he wasn't sure whether he could pull out in time, or if he just didn't want to because it was no fun for him if he didn't get to come, then he had the choice of saying so, and they could have then made a decision as to whether or not to continue.
    He chose, not to do that.
    He choseto carry on anyway. How is that any different to if his victim had consented to kiss him, and he had chosen to rape her anyway? Or if she had consented to vaginal sex and he then chose to rape her anally?

    And for any one in any doubt - yes, either party has an absolute right to say no at any point. And if you carry on after your partner has said no, then you are a rapist. If you carry on without your partner saying yes, you are a rapist. It really is not a difficult concept.

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