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Battle of the Sexes on an unsteady course

Call me a misogynistic old git if you wish, but am I the only one who finds the current media obsession with the vexed ‘issue’ of male sexism and attitudes to women bordering upon over the top?

Here’s the text of the latest initiative designed to assist female victims of rape as reported by Owen Bowcott, legal affairs correspondent, upon the website of – THE GUARDIAN

I must begin my comments by confessing that I’m not an expert upon legal matters or indeed the statistics involved in instances of rape in the United Kingdom and therefore apologise in advance if I should get any of them wrong.

However.

From ‘off the cuff’ recollection only I think I’m correct in stating that the conviction rate in alleged cases of rape is less than 10% of those reported and that campaigners (acting on behalf of women who believe themselves to have been raped) claim that hundreds if not thousands of women per annum do not report – or pursue further – the alleged crime at all because of fears that they will not be believed but also the ordeals of the process of going to the police, being interviewed, giving evidence in court – and then the aftermath of some or all of the above.

In other words, by implication, the problem of women being raped in the UK is far worse than any statistics might tend to suggest.

Ergo, thousands of men are basically getting away with rape crimes every year because of the accompanying issues that surround (1) the ordeal of victims in having to go through the process of making an allegation in the first place, never mind thereafter (2) having to go to court, give testimony, be cross-examined upon it and no doubt in some cases also be quizzed about either their sexual history and/or other ‘evidence’ (e.g. phone calls, texts, emails and anything they may have committed to record about the alleged perpetrator or indeed the night in question) that in normal circumstances might be produced in court during the course of a criminal trial.

And so we get to calls for what I’m going to call here ‘the legal process’ to be skewed in favour of female alleged victims of rape.

There have been a great number of them and also a great number of different suggestions and proposals as to how things can be changed in order to make the whole kaboosh more ‘victim’ friendly.

Allowing, of course, for the healthy cynicism about statistics in any form (e.g. “lies, damned lies and statistics”), it seems to me that some campaigners do not particularly care how destructive of the fundamental principles of law any measures taken might be. Their attitude is almost as if – just as long they engineer a jump in the rape conviction rate from the current ‘less than 10%’ to (say) 30% or above – they’d be content to hide behind the line that that the end justifies the means.

I’m uneasy about this.

In October 2107, in an interview by John Humphreys on the Radio Four Today programme, the Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders stated that the fact a man accused of rape who was acquitted at trial did not necessarily mean that the female accuser concerned has made a false or malicious accusation.

This comment was technically self-evidently true in the sense that (plainly) the fact that a witness gives truthful evidence in court doesn’t necessarily mean that – as night follows day – he or she will be believed, or indeed that – when a jury comes to consider all the evidence before it and considers its verdict – it will automatically decide that the stricter standard of criminal law than its civil counterpart (i.e. ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ rather than ‘on the balance of probabilities’) has been met.

This in the context of an accused being considered innocent until proved guilty – the legal principle which has been regarded as one of – and perhaps the most fundamental – cornerstones of English and Welsh law throughout history.

And yet, this statement of Ms Saunders seems to me to have given away her underlying thinking – i.e. that of a campaigner for rape victims rights – which borders upon a desire to do away with the presumption of innocence for men accused of rape.

For me, it isn’t good enough to imply – when a person accused of rape (who by the time of trial may already have been identified to the public, had his reputation trashed and his life destroyed whereas his accuser, albeit quite rightly many of us would contend, has and will continue to have the benefits of anonymity throughout) is acquitted – that in fact he may well have committed the crime he was accused of but, because of some tiresome legal technicality didn’t get found guilty and therefore – in some statistical count somewhere – this outcome should be chalked down as ‘one that got away’ (i.e. a cast-iron case of rape that, thanks to our antiquated legal system, failed to deliver the ‘victim’ justice).

That’s hogwash.

Under the current legal system in this country as it applies to criminal cases, the CPS and police are not entitled to obtain a conviction unless and until they can convince a jury ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. The accused’s legal team does not have to prove his innocence to gain an acquittal, they simply have to convince a jury that the prosecution haven’t met the ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard – end of message.

There’s a lot of coverage of what these days we call the Millennials, or ‘the snowflake generation’. Let me add in here for good measure the latest PC-correct issues of transgender rights, people self-identifying whatever gender they wish to be on any particular day etc. (these days it’s almost compulsory to be something – anything – other than straight and normal) whilst I’m being an unreconstructed Neanderthal.

Frankly, I consider this all rather pathetic.

It’s as if anyone who decides that they haven’t got to quite where they’d like to have reached in Life in their wildest of wild dreams now has an automatic right to feel hard done by – and therefore to be given Governmental support at the taxpayers’ expense to ‘rectify’ this unfair outcome. Anybody can become anything they like and somebody else should pay for it.

Thinking about these issues over the weekend – and back again on the vexed subject of rape – it seems to me that we might all benefit if it was made compulsory in law for everyone in the UK over the age of 16 to wear GoPro mini-cameras upon our foreheads.

This would enable the GoPro footage recorded by any female who is ‘raped’ to be compared with that recorded by the alleged rapist’s – and then this could be reviewed either by the CPS and/or the jury in any criminal court case – so that the legal process can get to the basic issues as to what actually happened and in what circumstances.

It would certain ‘nail’ any female who had a rather drunken but enthusiastic and consensual one night stand with a chap similarly under the influence but who then woke up the following day, regretted it, and then decided that she’d been taken unfair advantage of.

And indeed any devious manipulative rapist who did take advantage of a female who was not consenting to sex (or was incapable of giving consent, being under the influence of drugs or drink).

Just a thought.

About Arthur Nelson

Looking forward to his retirement in 2015, Arthur has written poetry since childhood and regularly takes part in poetry workshops and ‘open mike’ evenings. More Posts