Monday, November 12, 2007

the acceptable face of rape

I don’t care if it’s Cameron or Brown—I don’t care which party is going to raise the issue, just as long as somebody is, because we really can’t go on like this. It is estimated that 50,000 women a year are raped. Out of those 50,000 only 11,867 reported the crime to the police. Of those 11,867 reported cases, only 5.6% result in convictions. Rape is a low risk crime. You are more likely to get away with it than get caught, and even if you were convicted, sentences are short. (The Guardian's statistics).

In the 1970s 33% of reported rapists were convicted of the crime. We make such sweeping claims to equality and freedom from gender discrimination in this country, but have regressed 30 years in our treatment of rape, and we are failing all women if this is not addressed, because while rape remains an easy, consequence-free crime, without any deterrent, occurrences increase. If an act passes without judgement or condemnation then it becomes acceptable. It’s easy for women who have not been raped to disconnect and distance themselves from these statistics, but while these statistics exist, we have to understand that we could become one of them at any point in the future.

The BBC says the statistics suggest that 1 in 20 women is a victim of rape. I can probably name off-the-top-of-my-head at least 60 women in my life. According to the statistics 3 of them have been raped. Who knows how many will join those in the future. How many women are in your life?

I usually can’t stand scaremongering that presents all men as aggressors and all women as victims, but violent sexual crime forces this presentation of gender politics because men consistently make up the overwhelming majority of perpetrators. Personally, I’m ashamed to be part of a society that just sits back and allows this to continue. I do not see myself as a victim just because I am female, so I can only despise any perpetrator or criminal act that does. People (male and female) who bring rape injustice to the fore are not the ones making women into victims—it’s the rapists who do that.

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