The government is calling victims of rape liars


2:44 pm - May 25th 2010

by Laurie Penny    


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So the new government has somehow found time in its recession-busting schedule to propose a law that will grant anonymity to men accused of rape, who are of course the most pitiable and urgently un of victims of woman-promoting-marriage-destroying-single-mum-supporting-violence-preventing Broken Britain.

Popular wisdom has it that vast numbers of rape allegations are false, when in fact false accusation is believed to account for only a tiny percentage of reported rapes – no higher than false reports for other crimes.

The Daily Fail have somehow produced both the most table-bitingly offensive assessment of the situation so far – from treacherous misogynist Melanie Phillips, who claims that “after Labour’s reign of extreme man-hating feminism, common sense is reasserting itself” – and the most reasonable discussion of the issues for women, from Susanne Moore.

This is not about the human rights of those accused of crimes: it is a rapists’ charter designed to protect men from lying women who, by not being properly shamed for speaking to the police when men rape, beat, assault and invade their bodies, have clearly had it all their own way for far too long.

When I eventually decided to speak about my experience of non-consensual sex on this blog, I was hounded by accusations of having made it all up. It was a big decision for me to come forward. At first I regretted it profoundly.

Not because I was lying, but because as well as having experienced non consensual sex, during which I picked up a painful infection, I am now understood to be a manipulative lying bitch by people whose respect used to matter to me. I stayed in the house for days, not talking to anyone. And then I started getting the emails.

In the weeks after making that post I recieved no less than five emails from women who had recently experienced rape, saying that they felt happier talking to an anonymous person on the internet than going to their friends or the police.

Saying that they were worried about telling people because they quite liked the guy, or their friends quite liked him, or because they thought they wouldn’t be believed, or because they’d heard awful stories about how women who bring rape cases to court were publically accused of being sluts.

Saying that they felt dirty and ashamed and scared and hurt and they didn’t know who to contact about their internal bleeding. One of the women who emailed me was just fourteen years old.

Nobody is seriously suggesting that the number of women who remain silent about experiences of rape does not far exceed the small number of men who are falsely accused of rape – but it’s clear where the government’s priorities lie.

Just last year, when serial rapist John Worboys was eventually put on trial for nineteen counts of rape, no less than eighty-five women came forward claiming to have been sexually assaulted by him. Eighty five. Are eighty-five men falsely imprisoned for rape every year? Somehow I doubt it.

In this society, to accuse someone of rape is seen as a crime equal to raping someone. Men accused of rape are always given the benefit of the doubt.

Women who get up the courage to speak about rape are invariably accused of lying. And now even our government is calling us liars. Rape ruins lives too – but the new regime seems to be interested only in silencing victims.

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About the author
Laurie Penny is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. She is a journalist, blogger and feminist activist. She is Features Assistant at the Morning Star, and blogs at Penny Red and for Red Pepper magazine.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Conservative Party ,Feminism ,Libdems ,Sex equality

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Reader comments


I thought this was brilliant news, but I do agree with you Laurie accused child sex offenders should remain anonymous until a guilty verdict is delivered.

You can see the distinction between a man accused of rape and a rapist cant you?

Somehow missing from this entire article is the admission that the new law would still allow men found guilty of rape to be publicly named, while retaining anonymity for those accused of it. Innocence until proven guilty is a vital part of our entire legal system. Are you suggesting we dispose of it because this type of crime is so horrific?

I was on another site today arguing why I dont think Helen Newlove would be an effective peer. This article confirms it for me.

I don’t think there’s any intrinsic reason why people accused of crimes should be able to remain anonymous – certainly if you’re going to introduce anonymity, do it for all crimes (or all serious crimes, at least). However, I think the reasoning here is this: rape has a very poor conviction rate. Thus, someone acquitted of rape hasn’t actually “cleared their name”, they’ve just “got away with it”. The belief that this is the case means that the genuinely innocent won’t be able to say “I was acquitted” as proof of innocence.

Put another way, if you tell me that you were charged with murder but acquitted in court, I’d probably assume that you genuinely didn’t do it. Tell me you were acquitted of rape and I’d assume that you probably did, and benefitted from the inherent difficulty of securing a conviction in these cases. The legal system isn’t mean to work like this – acquittal is meant to allow people to get on with their lives as innocent people. So, this feels very much like addressing a single symptom of the dysfunction of our systems for convicting rapists, rather than addressing the underlying problem. However, given that the underlying problem looks, to me, like one of the most nightmarishly difficult ones I can imagine having to solve, this might be excusable. I’d like to see suggestions for the fundamental reforms that would ensure that the guilty do get convicted, and those found not guilty can get on with their lives with their reputations intact.

Laurie,

If an accuser is allowed anonymity in making an accusation, until found guilty the defendant should also be anonymous surely? A simple principle. Justice is normally done in the open so that we can see it is done; where a change to this is necessary, justice still has to be seen to be fair. And there is a very simple principle to follow here – if there is a chance of deliberately doing harm through the justice system, it must be stopped even if that reduces the chance of convictions. If you overturn that principle, you have no argument against the death penalty.

As for the eighty-five women assualted by John Worboys, they would presumably have been inclined to come forward when he was convicted anyway? Their evidence could not be used in the case (the defence would not have had time to prepare a proper defence)

And one thing I worry about: “In this society, to accuse someone of rape is seen as a crime equal to raping someone.” I am not sure here if you mean falsely accuse or not. If you did, then it is equally an assualt with deep and traumatic consequences (do you think my wife would stay with me if I was falsely accussed of rape? I know I wouldn’t like to test this), even if it is not as psychologically and physiologically harmful, but the sentance is less, which reflects this. If however you mean that to accuse someone correctly of rape, where is this seen as a crime? You presumably interpret this as a change in power dynamics, whereby men can suffer less consequences from their actions – well, yes it probably is, but do we live in a society where accusations do not need to be substantiated before punishment is inflicted (which is what being accused of being a rapist in public is – a public humiliation and penance imposed by an anonymous accuser). Because societies which tend towards justice by gossip and fingerpointing are also those that tend to be far harsher to women than men: see our own island’s history (who were mostly likely to be convicted of witchcraft or adultry) or most of Africa for examples.

I can understand your hurt and anger here, but justice is important. A public accusation is only acceptable if the accuser can be seen; the right to anonymity is fine so long as it covers all participants in a court. Otherwise this is a potential abuse.

#2 Oh, the tired claim that “innocent until proven guilty” means criminals should not suffer any adverse consequences unless/until convicted.

In that case, not only should no criminal (whatever the crime) be publicly named before conviction, no criminal should be locked up before conviction either (no matter how much of a danger they are).

‘I am not sure here if you mean falsely accuse or not. If you did, then it is equally an assualt with deep and traumatic consequences ‘

Thank you for confirming this, Watchman, I wasn’t actually expecting anyone to come forward and admit this level of misogyny. Have you ever been raped? Until you have, please don’t make statements about how relatively bad rape isn’t, please don’t minimise the effects of rape, and please don’t pretend, even for one second, that you know what rape victims go through.

Oh no hang on I forgot! The MENZ!! What about the poor MENZ?

It’s fairly ridiculous to compare different victimhoods. Obviously, victims of miscarriages of justice do suffer dreadfully, but there’s little logic in comparing this to being a victim of rape. They’re different things, and playing philosophical games with levels of victimhood is daft and unedifying.

tim f,

“#2 Oh, the tired claim that “innocent until proven guilty” means criminals should not suffer any adverse consequences unless/until convicted.”

In this case you miss a key thing – when someone is publically accussed, the details of the crime are released also, so there is more than an accusation around; it is contextualised. In rape cases this is not the case, as the victim remains anonymous. So you get an accusation and no context in which to judge it. That does not mean the person cannot be locked up etc, just that their name will not be publicised.

@tim f

I have no problem with all defendants being granted anonymity. It’s bizarre that they’re not. However, there’s a clear difference between granting anonymity and imprisonment – anonymity protects the defendant against reputational damage, while imprisonment protects the public against the defendant and ensures that the accused is brought to trial. Releasing the name of an accused rapist while they’re already in jail waiting for trial doesn’t protect the public – the accused is already behind bars.

Time spent in prison for a crime you didn’t commit can be compensated for in terms of lost earnings etc.; while incorrect accusations cannot. If, on conviction, the rapist’s name is released, that is enough for justice to be done.

11. Phil Evans

It’s worth pointing out that the link cited for false rape accusations being “no higher than false reports for other crimes” is in fact making the opposite point – that rates of false rape accusations simply are not known. A quick skim of the article shows this pretty clearly (in the US 6 years ago, at any rate).

@7

Thank you for confirming this, Laurie, I wasn’t actually expecting anyone to come forward and admit this level of misogyny. Have you ever been falsely accused of rape? Until you have, please don’t make statements about how relatively bad falsely being accused of rape isn’t, please don’t minimise the effects of being falsely accused of rape, and please don’t pretend, even for one second, that you know what falsely accused of rape victims go through.

Oh no hang on I forgot! The WOMENZ!! What about the poor WOMENZ?

Can someone explain to me how anonymity for accused rapists “silences” rape victims?

Did the killers of James Bulger cheat justice because they were protected from public identification until found guilty? Er, no.

@5 it depends on when the name’s released. Given that many rape cases are “one person’s word against the other”, and many rapists in “he said/she said” situations are serial rapists, there is a very real chance that if Bob Jones, Accountant From Camden Town is charged, then other women *will* come forward in a way that makes a serious difference to the case. Because then it’s not just one person’s word, it’s several unconnected people’s words.

@7 I’ve not been raped. Nor have I been falsely accused of rape, or falsely convicted. In the context of this kind of discussion, I’ve thought before about which would be worse. I’ve no idea what the answer is, but I think if I had to choose I’d prefer a single assault, however horrible, over a year in jail on remand.

(if it’s just having my name blackened pre-trial and vindicated at trial, which seems to be @5’s suggestion, then I’d agree that it’d be a rubbish and upsetting experience, but trivial by comparison with either rape or being jailed. Beyond that, I’m speculating about how bad both experiences are, and you’re speculating about how bad prison is.)

And now even our government is calling us liars.

No, they’re not. They’re saying that there is such a stigma in being accused of rape – that mud sticks – that anonymity for the accused ought to be seriously considered. No-one says the accused should not be tried. No-one says the convicted should remain anonymous.

@8 yehbutnobut. In real life, if we change the system to reduce one, we’ll increase the other. So we need to find some kind of way of working out relative harm, even though the two things aren’t comparable.

@13 Jamie Bulger was, err, dead. As a result, his testimony wasn’t required to put a case together against his killers. Rapists who murder their victims make life a great deal more convenient for the police than rapists who don’t.

@assorted misogynist commentators if the alleged victim is proven to have been lying, to the satisfaction of a court of law such that she’s convicted of perverting the course of justice, then her anonymity is lifted. Hence, err, no, you’re talking arse.

Men sometimes get raped too…

18. Matt Munro

I don’t see how giving anonymity to the accused makes any difference to the reporting of rape, or to the victim. The purpose of criminal prosecution is to determine guilt and punish it if found, not to put the accused in a modern version of the stocks for all to see and abuse.
The problem with the current law is that it’s inconsitent. The accuser is anonymous – a legal anomoly which is justified by unique nature of the crime, but that logic is for some reason not extended to the accused. Either both should be anonymous, or neither should

I agree with the fact that we should really concentrate on improving conviction rates – then when people are aquitted people won’t continue to hold them under suspicion for the rest of their lives.

I’m not saying rape isn’t terrible – I know firsthand it is – but I also have a friend who was falsely accused about 10 years ago and it almost ruined his life.

I think it’s wrong to be asking which is worse – it’s not one vs the other. Protecting the identity of the accused isn’t automatically calling the accuser a lier!

Rob,

… rape has a very poor conviction rate.

It depends on how “conviction rate” is defined. Rape is the only crime, as far as I know, where the conviction rate is defined as “number of convictions : number of allegations” – for other crimes the conviction rate is defined as “number of convictions : number of prosecutions”.

Laurie once again takes an inflammatory stance to make a narrow point, while missing the wider one.

I’ve been thinking about this since the Jack Tweedy case recently. I think that
anonymity could be potentially beneficial in all cases as it would eliminate pre-judgement. However, it is potentially difficult to marry such privacy with the desire to have the process open and transparent, another important part of a fair legal system.

Let’s be clear – accusations themselves have the potential to destroy lives. Merely being known as a “suspected racist”, or a “suspected paedophile” or a “suspected fraudster” can be enough to turn public opinion against someone. The cases of vigilante ‘justice’ meted out against people with mistaken identities (incorrectly assumed to be an animal researcher, or acting against a paediatrician) are bad enough, never mind those actually accused.

Frankly, it’s not an easy subject and I’m afraid I’ve not had the time to put together a more coherent view on the subject. However, as I’m sure I’ve said before, presenting inflammatory rhetoric in the manner of this article speak to the fact that you are more interested in getting people riled up than actually having a constructive debate.

22. Watchman

Laurie,

I have not been raped, thankfully. And I sympathise with you. But your victimhood does not give you the right to assume the role of expert. After all, you have not been falsely accused of rape, have you? So, on your own logic, how can you, on your own basis, judge the effects of that? And at the moment you have made a decision as to what is worse, which I actually agreed with in my comment.

I accept that my wording could have been better, in that my implication was the crime was equally an assualt on a person, rather than being equal in traumatic value (which I do state is not the case in the next clause). And I apologise if it caused you distress, which is not my aim. I am however going to hold the point.

As to misogynist, I’m offended. But this is kind of the point about accusations – you can make them and I can respond, and this is in public. You throw an ungrounded accusation at me, and I have to respond and defend myself, but everyone knows where the defence is aimed. This might be a bit different if all everyone saw was my comments and summaries of what you wanted to say relayed by Sunny. Anyway, is it misogynistic to state that two types of assualt are equally crimes? I thought misogyny implied having certain attitudes about women in general, which I do not hold. At no point did I mention men or women other than when citing your original post – I tend to think of law as an abstract (rape is not limited in law to female victims or male perpertrators anyway). Maybe you see it differently, but there has to be equality in front of the law, hence my failure to address gender issues. Still, it easier for you to call misogyny than to deal with the issue of fairness in law. It is difficult to convict people for many crimes, notably but not exclusively sexual crimes; so it should be, because to take peoples rights away as a punishment should not be easy and should require clear and doubtless proof. To short circuit justice by allowing an anonymous accusation in public is bluntly wrong, because it is unfair and unjust.

And what the hell is the MENZ stuff anyway? If you mean men, I do think of them, the same as I think of women. As people, as equals, before the law, in my eyes and in their rights. Feel free to disagree with that if you wish, but that is the basis on which I make my judgements.

23. Matt Munro

@ 4 “rape has a very poor conviction rate”.

That’s a myth actually, the conviction rate for cases that get to court is about 58%, roughly the same as for murder. Yes lots of cases don’t get to court, but that’s true of all crimes.
Basing law on conviction rates is a nonsense anyway, should we say that because hardly anyone gets convicted of dropping litter, the legal test for littering should be relaxed ?

#18

The problem is that the message that goes out is that men need protecting because of all these women going around lying about men raping them. That in turn dissuades people from coming forward who might feel it’s better to suffer in silence than for “everyone” to think they’re lying.

We just have to be bold here and say women lying about rape to settle scores or whatever is something that hardly ever happens, and is so rare it’s not worth legislating for. The chances of it happening are low enough that – however bad it is for the accused on the one in a million case where it happens – it’s not worth the potential of discouraging more rape survivors from coming forward, or reducing the chances of being able to improve conviction prospects by more people coming forward after hearing the name.

Popular wisdom has it that vast numbers of rape allegations are false, when in fact false accusation is believed to account for only a tiny percentage of reported rapes – no higher than false reports for other crimes.

Did you actually read the article you linked to? That article just shows that in the media, there are more stories about convictions than about false claims (which wasn’t what you were trying to show which was that false claims are tiny). But that misses the third option: no conviction but it never gets shown to be a false claim either.

And the end of that article states, “However, the stories also suggest that false accusations do sometimes occur, and in the absence of any reliable information about how often, it seems that additional research would be worthwhile.”

Yes, that’s right, you have no reliable evidence about how many false claims there are.

Just last year, when serial rapist John Worboys was eventually put on trial for nineteen counts of rape, no less than eighty-five women came forward claiming to have been sexually assaulted by him. Eighty five. Are eighty-five men falsely imprisoned for rape every year? Somehow I doubt it.

It’s hard to refute an incredulous stare.

Since we’re throwing around abuse, I find it quite misandrist to assume that:

1. Rape is all about women. You would not think that men get raped by reading this post.

2. Men are innately more evil than women, such that while many men happily rape women, few women promote bogus allegations.

” criminals should not suffer any adverse consequences unless/until convicted”

Until they are convicted, suspects are not criminals, Tim F.

Look, stop trying to impress all the women here. The fact is, if you were accused of rape, you wouldn’t want your name publicised across the world, even if you were eventually acquitted. Woman or man, no one can live down that kind of stigma. You would forever be a “rapist”, even though you didn’t commit any crime. Do you want that?

Why on earth would you have a problem with anonymity given to people who are innocent until proven guilty? You seem to completely miss the fact that if these people are convicted of rape in a court of law, the protection is immediately lifted. The law protects the innocent and not the guilty!

Also, the link you provide as evidence that 2% of rapes are falsely reported says no such thing! It describes that it is “often repeated [by] advocates that [the 2% claim] is known definitively”, then goes on to say that “no study has ever been published which sets forth an evidentiary basis for the ‘two percent false rape complaint’ thesis,”! How on earth do you justify using this to say exactly the opposite?

Finally, your screaming, untrue, hyperbole of a title “The government is calling rape victims liars” is as bad as any similar gutter press nonsense.

e.g.
http://www.leftfootforward.org/images/2009/09/Daily-Express-front-page_Equalities-Bill.jpg

What a crap piece of journalism. LC should aspire to better.

An acquaintance of mine is currently the subject of a rape allegation.

The alleged offence happened following a drunken 18 year old party when the stragglers crashed out in the living room in the early hours of the morning as is their wont. By his own admission, my friend had sex with a girl he had met at the party whilst the others in the room slept.

In the morning, the girl confided to a friend that she didn’t feel good about what happened and that she regretted having sex. That evening, she went to the police and alleged that she had been raped.

Since then, of course, both lives have been in utter turmoil and the case is currently with the DPP who have yet to decide whether to prosecute. If they do proceed, the case will come to court in the autumn coinciding with the start of both parties proposed university courses.

The above is the extent of my knowledge.

I cannot say definitively what happened that night as I wasn’t there.

Nor, I suspect, can anyone else.

My suspicion is that, in fact, the prosecution will not proceed as it would seem, at face value, that there could be little prospect of a conviction. However the DPP are presumably under significant pressure to try to prosecute rape cases if there is any chance at all.

Now I know Laurie and many others won’t like this but, regardless of what actually happened, I cannot see any benefit to anyone in bringing the details of this rather squalid incident before the courts. Surely, it would be better that both youngsters learned something from their experience rather than have their lives ruined by it?

And if the matter does go to court, I certainly cannot see the benefit of publicising either of their identities.

This is the key:

“Rape is the only crime, as far as I know, where the conviction rate is defined as “number of convictions : number of allegations” – for other crimes the conviction rate is defined as “number of convictions : number of prosecutions”.”

Either abolish anonymity for accusers, although I’m sure that will make you whine, or grant anonymity to defendants. Why should one get a privilege the other doesn’t?

The fact is, if you were accused of rape, you wouldn’t want your name publicised across the world, even if you were eventually acquitted.

Which is why you’re also lobbying for anonymity for people accused of armed robbery, shoplifting and pickpocketing, right? Because I wouldn’t particularly want my name associated with any of those, either…

Tom,

I agree with the fact that we should really concentrate on improving conviction rates

It seems difficult to improve the conviction rate (see my post @20) much more than 58%. What we ought to do, among other things, is improve the attrition rate – the cases that drop out or are dropped out of the process from complaint to charges.

And if the ratio of convictions to accusations is so low, then doesn’t that suggest that the current system of no anonymity for the accused isn’t working as wel as this screed makes it seem?

Men accused of rape are always given the benefit of the doubt.

Yes it’s called beyond reasonable doubt. It’s a pretty basic rule of law concept.

@30 john b

Yes, why not?

34. Watchman

Tim f,

“We just have to be bold here and say women lying about rape to settle scores or whatever is something that hardly ever happens, and is so rare it’s not worth legislating for.”

Well, hanging the wrong person was rare, but in did happen. Still, not worth rejecting the death penalty for, something rare like that…

And as for the rarity:

http://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/news/8180858.Pendle_woman_facing_jail_over_bogus_rape_claim/?ref=mr

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1280926/Student-cleared-rape-emerges-second-man-committed-suicide-falsely-accused-woman.html (sorry – not my choice of sources)

Thank you Laurie.

@30

No-one is lobbying, they are replying to Lauries post, again I think this is an excellent idea.

#26

I like how if a man (or at least someone using a male name on the internet) agrees with anything remotely feminist, it couldn’t possibly be what he actually thinks. By the same logic are you trying to impress misogynists?

As you’re making hypothetical assumptions about what I might think if placed in an unlikely scenario, let me do so too. I hope, placed in that extremely rare and unlikely position, I’d make public statements which made it clear that my position was highly unusual and that I hoped that any publicity associated with it did not discourage rape survivors from coming forward, and that while innocent the interests in publishing the names of the accused in the general case outweighed my specific interests in not having it published.

37 – and in the real world you would be tarnished as a rapist regardless of what you said.

I am not sure it makes sense to treat rape differently from any other serious crime. I can see the anomaly in allowing victims to make an anonymous accusation, though understandable, but I am not sure the solution is to give the accused anonymity too. I think it just needs to be explained that just because someone is accused of rape, doesn’t mean they have committed. I think it could also be acknowledges that there are cases of genuine disagreement/ignorance over what happened in a particular case. It doesn’t have to be a “he’s a rapist/she’s a liar” sharp distinction. There might have been genuinely different interpretations of the same events. Of course, if there is doubt than the accused should be acquitted, but that doesn’t make the alleged victim necessarily wrong for making the accusation.

False allegations are rare….hmm. Laurie links to something which states 2% is the figure usually used. Fawcett recently claimed that it was 3%. The Stern Review seemed to think about 10%.

If we take the allegation to conviction rate of 6% then the ratio of false allegations to allegations that are actually proven to the standards required in a court of law (“beyond reasonable doubt”) then false allegations to proven allegations varies from 30% to 150 % or so.

Whatever this is it’s not that false allegations are “rare”.

As to anonymity for those alleged to have raped until conviction. The reason is that rape is the only crime where the accuser is offered (quite rightly, given the true but foul manner in which those who have been raped are marked as damaged goods by having been raped) anonymity. Quite simply it’s turn and turn about. If it is possible to accuse someone while remaining anonymous then those accused should also remain anonymous until the accusation has been tested.

” The government is calling victims of rape liars”

Err, no, the point about false allegations is that the claim is actually that some who claim to be victims of rape are liars.

For the “false” part of “false allegation” is that it is false that a rape occured.

42. the a&e charge nurse

[24] “women lying about rape to settle scores or whatever is something that hardly ever happens, and is SO RARE it’s not worth legislating for”.

What hard data do you have to support this claim?

I understand that suicide has resulted following a rape accusation – the ‘victim’ was later shown to have made other dubious claims?
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/7759943/Medical-student-cleared-of-raping-woman-whose-earlier-claim-drove-man-to-suicide.html

x1 young life ended and another almost ruined, or put through 7 months of ‘hell’ according to the judge.
Surely we have to balance the implications of such compelling legal incidents very carefully – or put another way a % of accusers are, unfortunately, liars (or fantasists), a fact which is damaging not only to those actually accused but to other genuine victims who may somehow be seen as less credible because of nagging doubts that arise following these kinds of spurious accusations?

It’s interesting to me that rape is emerging from the comments to be at one and the same time unlike any other crime – in that the stigma of false accusation is such that the accused deserve a level of protection that other alleged criminals don’t – and just another crime like any other in that the trial and conviction rates are quite normal and there’s no problem thankyouverymuch.

I’m not really interested in picking apart the mechanics of either argument here; anyone who triviliazes or pooh-pooh the effects of rape are suffering from such a catastrophic failure of basic human decency that they’re highly unlikely to respond well to reasoned argument (the ability to listen and comprehend is vital for discourse, you see).

Just wanted to pop in and say, well done Laurie. Keep it up and ignore the slavering woman haters – even if you could imprison them all, they’d still want you punished horribly for each disgusting illicit orgasm, so the priority for us as feminists should be to work around them, not engage with them.

The number of men who commit rape is small. However, most rapists are repeat offenders. The research of several American psychologists on undetected rapists (self-reported) show that rapists commit on average 5-6 rapes or attempted rapes (http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2010/03/25/predator-theory/ – do read it, it’s very insightful). Given this information, providing anonymity for the victims while naming the suspects improves the possibility that rapists will be correctly identified and successfully prosecuted.

False accusation of rape is a serious thing. However, until someone provides solid evidence that the frequency of false accusations is actually relevantly high, there is not enough reason to grant suspected rapists anonymity. Society is already completely failing to prosecute sexual violence (88% of reported rapes are not prosecuted, an overwhelming number of rapes is never even reported because of lack of support for victims of rape in society), and this proposed policy to protect suspected rapists makes it clear why that is so, and why it will remain so.

One of the rules of the internets seems to be that on any thread about rape, a vast majority of posters will be more concerned with false accusation than with rape itself. I don’t really see why false accusations of rape should be regarded as being any more serious than false accusations of murder, theft, arson, drug dealing…

I have an issue with an argument based on the logic that one horrific thing, demands something bad happen to someone else. I haven’t seen anyone giving an actual reason why this change would reduce rape convictions, except that it somehow would. I think extending this to all crimes makes more sense myself, but this is a start.

The title of your article is sheer hyperbole, and not very conducive to an actual argument on this issue. Your argument seems remarkably similar to one I had against me previously, when my opposition to gender quotas was linked to female oppression and rape, and therefore I support them. Unless I agree with you 100%, I’m obviously supporting rape!

Your argument comes to an unfounded conclusion. You seem all too like my encounter with the so called feminists in the NUS, who do massive disservice to women everywhere, and actual feminists who fight for equality.

47. Shatterface

tim f:

‘As you’re making hypothetical assumptions about what I might think if placed in an unlikely scenario, let me do so too. I hope, placed in that extremely rare and unlikely position, I’d make public statements which made it clear that my position was highly unusual and that I hoped that any publicity associated with it did not discourage rape survivors from coming forward, and that while innocent the interests in publishing the names of the accused in the general case outweighed my specific interests in not having it published.’

I don’t know how you manage to type so much with your stigmata bleeding all over your keyboard.

Great post Laurie; thank you for writing it.

Mad Mel hates her sex. Which is not surprising, since all woman who work for the Wail hate their own
sex. As usual, if you are a woman you are guilty until you prove your innocence.

Maybe woman should carry knifes , and then stick it in to rapists. Sure as hell not worth bothering about the legal system.

50. Shatterface

‘One of the rules of the internets seems to be that on any thread about rape, a vast majority of posters will be more concerned with false accusation than with rape itself.’

You could say the same about terrorism.

‘I don’t really see why false accusations of rape should be regarded as being any more serious than false accusations of murder, theft, arson, drug dealing…’

Because in the case of those crimes I’d have no problem leaving my children in the care of someone aquitted – would you?

51. Matt Munro

@ 44 “Given this information, providing anonymity for the victims while naming the suspects improves the possibility that rapists will be correctly identified and successfully prosecuted.”

How exactly ? I don’t understand the logic that naming the accused somehow makes it easier to catch rapists. It might encourage others to come forward but that will likely be years after the event. A defence barrister will rightly wipe the floor with someone who comes forward only when they see the perpetrator on trial for something else.

“yep he definately mugged me, 4 years ago, outside Finsbury park Tube station”

“Why didn’t you report it then ?”

“er, I waited until he’d been accused of mugging someone else as well”

Doesn’t work does it ?

Ah MarinaS, once again you say you aren’t here to actually say anything for the argument one way or the other, but of course you’ll casually label some people here as ‘slavering women-haters’ without actually saying who.

You, ma’am, are a coward.

Mad Mel hates her sex. Which is not surprising, since all woman who work for the Wail hate their own sex. As usual, if you are a woman you are guilty until you prove your innocence.

Maybe woman should carry knifes , and then stick it in to rapists. Sure as hell not worth bothering about the legal system.

Still, interesting how many brown shirt trolls on here are more concerned with the rapists rights rather than the womans. Just shows that for most men rape is not a crime.

Mad Mel hates her sex. Which is not surprising, since all woman who work for the Wail hate their own
sex. As usual, if you are a woman you are guilty until you prove your innocence.

Maybe woman should carry knifes , and then stick it in to rapists. Sure as hell not worth bothering about the legal system.

Still , interesting how many brown shirt trolls are more concerned with the rapists rights than the womans. Since most conservative men don’t see rape as a crime at all.

Always with these discussions we get people arguing about the the relative pain involved in of being raped, against that of being falsely accused of rape.

But these two are not in opposition, they reinforce each other: it is precisely because rape is such a serious crime that being falsely accused of it is also a terrible thing to happen to someone. (That’s not to say that I support this new law.)

56. George W Potter

Quite simply, rape is viewed by the legal system as a special case where the accuser should be given anonymity (I agree with this). Since we follow the principle of innocent until proven guilty then it is only fair and just to give the defendant anonymity as well. Simple.

Regrettably, this whole article is biased, distorted and misandrist. Shame on Laurie for writing such a piece and on LC for hosting it.

57. Sevillista

Is this the same Daily Mail that was shrieking about their inability to expose the identity of Jon Venables after he was accused of sex offences recently?

And the same tabloid press that insists on side-stepping legal injunctions that prevent those accused of serious sexual offences being named in many cases?

What’s worse, Laurie?

Killing a man or not raping a woman?

The laws YOU support in your quest to make every man seem as if he had the potential to rape a woman, have led to the death of a man falsely accused of rape:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/7759943/Medical-student-cleared-of-raping-woman-whose-earlier-claim-drove-man-to-suicide.html

Are you happy?

“theft, arson, drug dealing…” Oh yes, because they are as bad as rape aren’t they?

So answer my question, Laurie Penny: what’s worse, killing a man or not raping a woman?

59. Yurrzem!

I think Pagar (@28) makes a good point: Most posters assume rapists to be habitual sex monsters, what about the case of drunken sex pagar describes? There may have been stupidity and criminality in the eys of some, even the law, but who would benefit from such a case going to trial or even resulting in a conviction?

If I remember rightly the removal of anonymity for men accused of rape was intended to improve conviction rates and encourage victims to come forward. If it hasn’t worked then surely justice requires that both parties should remain anonymous?

This will be a intractable problem unless we all end up micro-chipped and tracked. Focusing on what happens after a rape has happened may not help: how can it be prevented?

60. Stuart Ellis

Another vote for allowing all defendants to remain anonymous until they actually have been found guilty. I can remember when the media didn’t report the names of defendants, so this isn’t a new or radical concept.

Now that every public statement ever made about anyone (true or not) is available forever with a simple Web search, I think that it is even more important that state agencies are scrupulous about what they say on record about individuals.

There was also some research recently that apparently found that once a statement had been made corrections and refutations couldn’t undue the initial impression. Any memorable accusation can do serious and permanent damage that “found not guilty” will not repair.

ukliberty/20: The conviction rate is virtually meaningless, though. CPS guidelines say they should only prosecute cases they think they have at least an even chance of winning, so if it was much lower than 50% they’d be doing a bad job, and if it was much higher than 60%, they’d clearly be passing up too many potentially winnable cases.

As for the attrition rate, that’s worth focusing on if nothing else because it has immense regional variations – from 1.6% of reports successfully prosecuted by Dorset Police, to 18.1% of reports successfully prosecuted by Cleveland Police. When there’s a more than ten-fold difference in success between different police forces, it’s fairly clear that more could easily be done to improve it nationally.

Tim W/40: If we assume that no-one is likely to lie to the British Crime Survey that they were raped when they weren’t (and why would they?), then we find that only between 10% and 15% of rapes are reported at all (under the assumption that all reports are true). If there is any significant amount of false reporting – and it’s worth noting here that the vast majority of false reports do not name a perpetrator, a few counter-examples in the press notwithstanding – then that means that the proportion of actual rapes reported is smaller. It seems highly unlikely that the ratio “false reports : true reports” would be anywhere near as large as “true reports : unreported”.

wodan/44: Absolutely agreed on the rest, but I’m not sure I’d describe 5-15% – the figures found by Lisak’s studies and other similar studies (depending on exactly what questions are asked) to be small. That’s 2 to 4 million men in this country.

Excellent piece, Laurie, and hang in there. There’s a lot of shit being thrown at you here by a lot of shits.

If we’re going to have anonymity, let’s have it for everyone – rapists, murderers, the lot.

Otherwise, let’s admit women have a right to feel got-at at the moment. Our new cabinet is male-dominated, Dave ‘I like knocking ‘em up’ Cameron is likely to launch an assault on the abortion time limit at any moment, and now this horseshit about attacker rights. They’ll be making the burka compulsory for us all next, and taking away the vote.

It’s a question of context, and women ain’t doing so well atm. I’m not a victim at all, but I get up most days these days feeling like punching an asshole.

Good on ya, Laurie. Kick ‘em where it hurts.

Excellent piece, Laurie, and hang in there. There’s a lot of shit being thrown at you here by a lot of shits.

If we’re going to have anonymity, let’s have it for everyone – rapists, murderers, the lot.

Otherwise, let’s admit women have a right to feel got-at at the moment. Our new cabinet is male-dominated, Dave ‘I like knocking ‘em up’ Cameron is likely to launch an assault on the abortion time limit at any moment, and now this horseshit about attacker rights. They’ll be making the burka compulsory for us all next, and taking away the vote.

It’s a question of context, and women ain’t doing so well atm. I feel like punching an asshole myself.

Good on ya, Laurie. Kick ‘em where it hurts.

“If we’re going to have anonymity, let’s have it for everyone – rapists, murderers, the lot.”

Do stop being a fool Kate.

Absolutely no one is arguing that rapists or murderers should have anonymity.

The question is, should those who have been accused of such but not yet known to be such be allowed to remain anonymous? Have their identity protected until it is in fact proven?

If you’re not prepared to even understand that distinction then it’s not just that you’re not being serious, it’s that you’re being a drivelling fool over the issue.

To repeat (and you can disagree with me on this, fine, no problems, but this is the question that needs to to be addressed) there is one crime, uniquely, in the legal system as it pertains to adults where the accuser has their identity protected by law. I think that protection is a good thing for reasons I’ve already mentioned above.

But that very protection of the identity of the accuser causes problems….and one possible solution is that the identity of the accused be similarly protected until, and unless, the case is proven.

Unless you’re willing to address the specific points and problems that come from this dichotomy then you’re just being, well, like Laurie actually, hysterical. Yes, I am aware of the sexist implications of that word.

Kate normally comments with quite sane suggestions, like suggesting change rather than just complaining (http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/03/08/what-if-the-world-were-different-for-a-day/#comment-111644), so I don’t think she is seriously saying convicted X-ers/ists should have anonymity.

Of course I could be wrong as I am currently in the “let’s give all accused privacy unless convicted” camp, seeing no great benefit in broadcasting a charge the public at large. I do agree that some things need to change in the way sexual assault cases are prosecuted (more protection for both sides, basically), although I disagree with the tone of the article as stated above.

Mad Mel hates her sex. Which is not surprising, since all woman who work for the Wail hate their own
sex. As usual, if you are a woman you are guilty until you prove your innocence.

Maybe woman should carry knifes , and then stick it in to rapists. Sure as hell not worth bothering about the legal system.

Fascinating to see the usual brown shirt trolls who lecture us daily about law and order seem to have an almost psychotic belief in the protection of the rapist above all else. No surprise there then, because Conservative men don’t think rape is a crime.

@admins, comments in this thread don’t seem to work in Chrome.

cim @61,

ukliberty/20: The conviction rate is virtually meaningless, though. CPS guidelines say they should only prosecute cases they think they have at least an even chance of winning, so if it was much lower than 50% they’d be doing a bad job, and if it was much higher than 60%, they’d clearly be passing up too many potentially winnable cases.

That is a good point and indeed there are concerns about whether the CPS prosecutes the proper number of cases. But my point is that this shows it is before court, before the cases are prosecuted, where the bulk of the problem is.

Indeed the 5-6% figure that is bandied about (1) actually puts off women making a complaint at all and (2) makes people think the problem is in the court itself, leading some (including Labour Government ministers) to suggest doing things like reduce the burden of proof from “beyond reasonable doubt” to something like the civil standard (“more likely than not”). This is a Bad Thing.

As for the attrition rate, that’s worth focusing on if nothing else because it has immense regional variations – from 1.6% of reports successfully prosecuted by Dorset Police, to 18.1% of reports successfully prosecuted by Cleveland Police. When there’s a more than ten-fold difference in success between different police forces, it’s fairly clear that more could easily be done to improve it nationally.

Quite. The Stern report says that the processes are there but the implementation is not and this needs to be looked at.

I was wrong about Chrome, it happens in Firefox too.

sally is either being extremely sarcastic and is a troll, or has just made one of the most sexist and stupid comments I’ve seen for a while. if that’s the case, something is seriously wrong with you. Well, either way really.

It’s interesting to me that rape is emerging from the comments to be at one and the same time unlike any other crime – in that the stigma of false accusation is such that the accused deserve a level of protection that other alleged criminals don’t – and just another crime like any other in that the trial and conviction rates are quite normal and there’s no problem thankyouverymuch.

That’s not interesting. The first bit is to do with the emotional and physical effects of the crimes, and the second is to do with the conviction rate statistics and so on. They’re two completely different concepts. So you can put your gotcha back in the box and try again next time.

Sally,

Still , interesting how many brown shirt trolls are more concerned with the rapists rights than the womans. Since most conservative men don’t see rape as a crime at all.

I guess there may be some here who don’t share the same concern for the rights of suspects when other crimes are concerned, but I’d have thought that protecting the rights of those accused of a crime, even a very serious one, is an issue which is generally seen as quite important around here, this being a liberal left blog. We are prepared to defend the rights of those accused of terrorism, surely we can also do so for those accused of rape without being accused of hating women.
That doesn’t mean we have to agree with giving anonymity for those accused of rape, but the fact that it is the sole crime where adult victims are allowed anonymity is surely an argument in its favour, even if there may be strong arguments against it.

burden^W standard

73. Richard W

It is a bit ironic that the coalition parties campaigned on err more transparency in public life.

@ 64. Tim Worstall, alleged rapists are not prosecuted by their ‘ accusers ‘ it is the CPS or Procurator Fiscal who accuses them and prosecutes. The rape victim is a witness for the prosecution and there is nothing unique or extraordinary for a witness in other criminal trials to be afforded anonymity.

There is no logical basis for saying just because a witness has anonymity the accused must have the same. One is a witness to a crime and the other has enough evidence against them for a criminal trial to proceed.

Laurie, in the comments their seems to be overwhelming negativity towards your post. I am merely commenting to say I agree with you wholeheartedly.

@ Those who believe rape doesn’t have poor conviction rates: When it comes to rape, you have to take into account the hundreds of cases which don’t make it to court. I know to some this seems ridiculous, but it is an important factor when considering what makes a rape case viable. Evidence gained from rape is much harder to substantiate, therefore much harder to make a good case with. Please try to understand: not all women who don’t get their cases to court are liars.

There is also the fact that every year, thousands of rapes go unreported. By making the defendant anonymous it implies to anyone who may consider going to the police that the odds will be stacked against them: that they will be immediately victim shamed and assumed to by lying. When a woman is going through the turmoil following a rape, having to deal with this would not make reporting it seem worthwhile.

And the victim deserves anonymity, do you know why? Because they have just been raped. Rape IS different to other crimes because when the case is made “Who did it?” is not the only question asked. “Did it happen?” is in there too. You have to be pretty strong to go up against that. To have to do that whilst staring in to the face of your rapist, knowing that they can see you, and know you, and that the whole court knows you too? For a woman to be able to do that is nothing short of unbelievably brave. Why make this harder than it already is?

75. Cheesy Monkey

Any defendant being tried for any crime in any court should be anonymous. Only on successful conviction should the guilty party be named and the press allowed to report on it. That should be a no-brainer, as it removes any potential prejudice as regards judge and jury.

Should be simple and quick to pass and enact. Then, hopefully, this will allow more time and thought on addressing the far more serious issue of encouraging the very large number of rape victims who don’t report this most devastating of crimes to do so — and to have faith that the justice system deals with those cases compassionately, humanely and effectively.

Tessa @74,

Those who believe rape doesn’t have poor conviction rates: When it comes to rape, you have to take into account the hundreds of cases which don’t make it to court.

It doesn’t have a poor conviction rate by the standard definition – 58% of cases prosecuted result in convictions, which is relatively good. I agree with the rest of your comment but please stop propagating this myth.

77. George W Potter

Tessa@74 So why don’t you think we should give the defendant anonymity too?

Also, whether intentionally or not you seem to be working on the false idea that “all rape victims are women”.

“This is not about the human rights of those accused of crimes: it is a rapists’ charter ……”

Ah, right. Glad you cleared that up. A rapists’ charter, eh? Sets out the rights of rapists, does it? States what rapists can expect from government agencies and, conversely, what rapists’ civic repsonsibilities are? No? It doesn’t even, strictly speaking, apply to rapists because the people it protects haven’t been convicted? Well, what kind of rapists’ charter can it be if it doesn’t do all of those things? Oh, I see, it just preserves the anonymity of people who have been accused, but not convicted, of a criminal offence, whereas you were using “rapists charter” in much the same way that phrases like “spongers’ charter” are used by newspapers like, erm, the Daily Mail.

“When I eventually decided to speak about my experience of non-consensual sex on this blog, I was hounded by accusations of having made it all up”

Were you? I remember that thread and I recall several people expressing surprise that you chose to disclose such a traumatic event on an internet forum in an article carrying your own name. I recall several people pointing out that we had only heard your side of the story. I recall several people pointing out that the man you were accusing (no proof, just your accusation to however many thousand people read your article) also had rights. I don’t recall anything I’d describe as actual hounding with accusations that you made it up, at least not on this forum. A lot of people may have been thinking exactly that. I expect many still are. But I don’t recall them saying it on here.

Anyway, don’t let the facts, reality, logic or anything like that intrude upon your writing, you’d be much less entertaining if you ever did.

UkLiberty@76

Only 15% of serious sexual offences against people 16 and over are reported to the police and

of the rape offences that are reported, fewer than 6% result in an offender being convicted of this offence.
http://www.rapecrisis.org.uk/mythsampfacts2.php

I would be interested to see where you cite your sources from.

77@George W Potter

I realised my unintentional mistake of indentifying rape victims as in general, women, and I will do my best to rectify that error in the future, so thank you for pointing it out.

Concerning defendant anonymity, I believe it should not be the case for numerous reasons:
1) The victim can see it as a form of shaming. It implies their deceit and suggests that they are, in fact, shaming a man by accusing him. Should people accused of murder be protected because they have right not to be shamed for their (accused) actions? No.
2) In the case of serial rapists, a conviction can give other women the strength to come forward about their own sexual assaults, providing the justice system with necessary evidence/ testimonies. In the case of he said/ she said which is (unfortunately) how rape cases often work, they provide a stronger basis for conviction.
3) I’ve laid out my reasons for why the victim should be protected because of special circumstances; when you feel endangered/ at risk in front of someone it is fair to ask for anonymity. Much as in the case for witnesses in gang-related crime, etc. A person cannot gain anonymity without absolute necessity- in the case of a victim being protected it assists the case for it to be so- a victim may not want to testify if they are not sure of being protected. In what way does the defendants anonymity at all help the case being successfully managed?

Seems to be some confusion over accused and convicted. They are different things! The anonymity wouldn’t apply if convicted, at least how I read it.

Also with Laurie on this. And there’s more evidence that the government has completely not thought this through:

The throwaway line in the coalition document giving anonymity to rape defendants could turn into a major headache for the new government.

A major question that has not been addressed so far, is whether the new rules will apply to paedophiles.

The Ministry of Justice told the News of the World: “We have not looked into that particular question.

“We will grant anonymity to defendants accused of rape. This is a sensitive area and careful analysis of the options and implications will be undertaken.”

The answer begs the question, why wasn’t careful analysis done before the coalition steamed ahead with the changes?

http://blogs.notw.co.uk/politics/2010/05/anonymity-for-rape-defendants-my-view.html

“UkLiberty@76

Only 15% of serious sexual offences against people 16 and over are reported to the police and

of the rape offences that are reported, fewer than 6% result in an offender being convicted of this offence.
http://www.rapecrisis.org.uk/mythsampfacts2.php

I would be interested to see where you cite your sources from.”

You are talking about different things. UKL means conviction rates in court (i.e. the number of prosecutions that result in convictions). You are talking first about the total proportion of alleged offences and the proportion of reports that eventually result in a conviction.

They are very different things. The “attrition rate” which is what the 6% figure amounts to is around the same as for other kinds of serious assaults.

The argument is confused. It seems to me that one can argue that false accusations are rare or one can argue that a defendant acquitted of rape attracts no greater stigma than one acquitted of any other major crime but logically one cannot simultaneously argue both.

Why does a newspaper or the BBC have to name *anyone* who has been accused but (so far) not convicted of any crime? How does this ensure justice is done in any way?

With the media’s desire to feed us a constant stream of human depravity, malice and cruelty, and its ability to change people’s leaves in one stroke by dominating the contextualisation and communication of an alleged crime to the public, regardless of whether a jury of our peers has actually convicted the defendant of a crime, surely we are impeding the flow of justice by parading every horrific event as though it were a soap opera? How is it even possible to get a fair trial when the narrative of rampant crime and social breakdown is reported on a daily basis?

Why does a newspaper or the BBC have to name *anyone* who has been accused but (so far) not convicted of any crime? How does this ensure justice is done in any way?

So why is the only time when right-wing commentators ever lobby for this point with respect to rape allegations?

In principle, I’m quite sympathetic towards giving anonymity to people accused of *all* crimes – the positive impact on the lives of the innocent accused would outweigh the negative impact on press freedom.

Because many rape trials are reliant on “repeated pattern of behaviour” evidence, this would have negative consequences for rape trials more so than for other trials. However, this could be offset by better work at the police stage, if the government were to run a national best practice scheme (the fact that there’s a 10x difference in “accusations going to court” between the best and worst police force really does show that the worst police force are absolutely cocking things up).

But it seems utterly bizarre to say “in this particular crime, where there’s a clear and obvious way in which having named defendants allows convictions to be improved, we should introduce anonymity; for all other crimes, where it doesn’t have that negative effect, we shouldn’t bother.”

I don’t think it’s fair to kick and shout “WOMAN HATER!”, “EVIL!”, “SMELLY” and “UGLY!” as well as “MYSOGINIST!” to anybody who disagrees with Laurie.

I understand the issue is a very delicate and emotive one, but if we were to follow our angriest, most impulsive and hysterical instincts then we’d all campaign in favour of torture against suspects of terrorism and the reintroduction of the death penalty.

I don’t see what is wrong in having anonymity granted to everyone until proven guilty. That should apply to every crime, in my opinion and should be the basic of a democratic and liberal society.

Tabloids aside, I absolutely don’t see the benefits of plastering around the details of anybody until proven guilty.

For once, basically, I agree with blanco and Tim Worstall.

tessa @79,

UkLiberty@76

Only 15% of serious sexual offences against people 16 and over are reported to the police and

of the rape offences that are reported, fewer than 6% result in an offender being convicted of this offence.
http://www.rapecrisis.org.uk/mythsampfacts2.php

I would be interested to see where you cite your sources from.

Sure: the Stern Review, Guidance on Investigating and Prosecuting Rape, Without Consent.

It is true that “fewer than 6% [of complaints] result in an offender being convicted of this offence”, but as Nick @83 wrote, we are talking about different things in terms of the ‘conviction rate’. Please see my comments at 20, 31, and 67.

Rape is all too often seen as the victim’s fault. Why were you drunk? Why didn’t you fight hard enough? Why were you dressed provocatively? What, you mean you were naked in bed with this person but didn’t want to go the whole way, but the other person did? Why on earth were you there in the first place then?

The advice given to women on how to avoid rape is to carry an alarm, avoid dark alleys, share taxis with friends and so on. Leaving aside the problem that gendered rape-avoidance advice makes it even more difficult for male victims to come forward, this also ignores the fact that the vast majority of rapes are not violent attacks by strangers – they take place in the home, between spouses, between formerly trusted friends.

In short we have a culture that tells women they can avoid rape by keeping away from violent strangers, but which has next to nothing to say to male victims, and which can add to the self-hatred felt by victims of acquaintance rape or intimate partner rape. No means no but this is not a message which is sent out with enough force or repetition by our society.

The rape accusations which tend to make it to court tend to be the “simpler” ones: stranger rape, with coercion or violence attached. Where the victim is seen as less sympathetic – maybe s/he is a sex worker, maybe s/he has had a lot of partners – convictions are much harder to come by. Rape victims already have an awful lot to overcome – internalised messages that rape is somehow the victim’s fault; feelings of shame; PTSD; even conflicted feelings towards the attacker, in the case of acquaintance/partner rape (how could someone I know/love do this to me?). Anything which makes it more difficult for victims to come forward should be resisted. By playing into the meme spread by some parts of the media – that false accusations of rape are rife – anonymity for defendants will send exactly the wrong message to rape victims thinking about going to the police. That’s why I’m against this proposal.

Good article, Laurie.

It’s an important point that the current rules give fellow victims the courage to come forward against those accused of rape.

But this would not be necessary if rape prosecution wasn’t fundamentally broken in the first place. A watertight defences against rape basically consist of wearing a good shirt, and persuading the jury that you’re a nice guy and she was asking for it dressing the way she does.

The reasons people will come out in support of a nice guy who couldn’t do such a thing, are the same as the reasons no jury will convict said same nice guy. If he can fool a woman into making herself vulnerable to him, fooling a jury of bored dopes isn’t beyond his capabilities. What we would call bullshit, manipulation and misdirection in court amounts to effective flirting in a pub or bar, and people who are good at one are good at the other. The way rape prosecution is currently set up is weighted well in favour of the sorts of superficial charmers who largely commit rape.

Take rape prosecution out of this arena of ignorant, easily-wowed jurists, and place it firmly within a framework of criminal psychologists who know how to spot a lying sociopath, and you’ll see instant results. Victims will be more confident in coming forward because they’ll know they won’t be arbitrarily slut-shamed, and we’ll start having a more coherent public ‘idea’ of a rapist instead of assuming they lurk in the bushes waiting for your virgin daughter.

The current naming of the accused treats the symptom (no juries believes a sole victim) rather than the cause (juries are ignorant as fuck, for reals). Kick out the juries

claude/87: “I don’t see what is wrong in having anonymity granted to everyone until proven guilty.”

I certainly don’t think it’s an obviously good idea. Here’s some objections off the top of my head, some of which could be worked around or at least mitigated with well-drafted legislation, others of which could not.

Well, it could make it really difficult for the police publicising CCTV footage, etc. in the hope of gathering evidence or finding where a suspect is hiding. Even more so if a charged suspect breaks bail and goes missing. If anonymity only applied post-charge then this could lead to ridiculous situations.

It could make reporting on many trials – including high-profile ones – virtually impossible. “The defendant, charged with crimes which we cannot report on without making it really obvious who they are, pleaded not guilty. Representatives of the victims of their actions were angry in an unreportable way outside the court. The trial continues.”

In the specific case of sexual offences, given the low reporting rate and the high proportion of serial offenders, it makes prosecutions a lot more difficult because there’s then no realistic way to find out if they attacked anyone else. The police have been saying this already about this particular proposal.

In some cases, it could harm the defendant. If someone has been arrested on terrorism offences, for instance, and is being held without charge for the maximum time, it might help them if other people, who could provide an alibi or other information that might release them, actually knew they were in there. There’s a prominent defence barrister in this Guardian article arguing that justice needs to be seen to be done.

92. Praguetory

Why does Laurie offer her own rapist the anonymity she would deny others?

@Jimmy #84:

a defendant acquitted of rape attracts no greater stigma than one acquitted of any other major crime

I’m not sure anyone is arguing that, though. Acquittal is not the same as exoneration, not in a judicial system that is based on the principle of reasonable doubt.

People, while in general cowardly and misogynistic, are not actually all that dumb – they assume that there’s a fair chance that a person acquitted of rape got away with it because of systemic sexism, the shortcomings of police investigations, and jurors who (like themselves) hesitate to “ruin the life” of someone because of what they see as essentially a victimless crime (since the victim is widely supposed to bear some responsibility for it, as explained in an excellent comment above).

So they look askance at anyone acquitted of rape, in a no-smoke-without-fire kind of way, and do apply a higher level of stigma to them. It’s a good indicator that we do, in fact, as a society, know in the cockles of our hearts that there’s a lot more sexual violence that goes on than we talk out loud about, but are still afraid of exposing it fully to the light of day and applying a true zero-tolerance policy to it.

@92

Without a conviction it would be fairly libellous to publicly accuse someone of a serious crime (which is another rule of law issue, as the CPS provides a self-justifying channel for people to do just this).

Also, more relevantly her (Orwell runner-up!) blog explains her friendship with him, so enquire within.

@78

Christ, what a patronising bastard you are. You know full well what she means by rapists’ charter. You also know full well that pointing out that you’ve only heard her side is to imply that her side is worthless by itself, and to point out that it’s a ‘public forum’ is to imply that she’s only talking about it to make a name for herself. Finally, your idea that her emotive arguments cannot also contain ‘logic’ is a pretty base bit of misdirection (who the fuck are you? Spock?).

If you’re so wound up about facts and logic, why don’t you care enough to actually go find them out yourself, rather than dicking about with ‘rape apologist bingo’ ad hominem shite?

Gwyn,

(no juries believes a sole victim)

Please cite.

MarinaS @ 93:

So they look askance at anyone acquitted of rape, in a no-smoke-without-fire kind of way, and do apply a higher level of stigma to them. It’s a good indicator that we do, in fact, as a society, know in the cockles of our hearts that there’s a lot more sexual violence that goes on than we talk out loud about, but are still afraid of exposing it fully to the light of day and applying a true zero-tolerance policy to it.

Isn’t that a good argument in favour of tackling the root of the problem? It goes back to what I said earlier – suspects who are acquitted should have the right to resume their lives with a presumption of innocence, but this only works when we’re pretty sure that we’re convicting most of the guilty suspects, making an acquittal much more meaningful. Nobody wins from the current situation – guilty rapists go unpunished and innocent acquittees have to live under the shadow of the kind of suspicion that you mention. Anonymity for defendants would solve the latter problem, albeit not the former one, and I’d rather be talking about solutions to tackle the underlying problem. But everyone seems to be having more fun playing the “greater victimhood” game than addressing the genuinely difficult problem at the core.

The issue here seems to be simply described as one of the importance of increasing rates of conviction against the importance of ensuring that justice is done only by courts. I can (contrary to what some might believe) see both sides of the argument here, but I ask you to consider the following. What if the crime in question was criminal damage: would you accept the potential false labelling and stigmatisation of innocent individuals in return for a higher conviction rate? Because the only potentially logical position that allows you not to do so for criminal damage but to do so for rape is to argue rape is a special case of crime. This seems to be where the fault lines on this thread lie – between those of us who refuse to allow any crime particular special treatment, so that conviction becomes more important than justice, and those who see that rape is an evil which must be pursued and destroyed at all reasonable costs. I am not sure any agreement is possible here – what I see as the deification of rape as an issue (I am not trying to digress from the enormity of the crime) against what I will admit is probably the deification of the concept of natural justice on mine and others’ parts is effectively the clash of two belief systems.

None of this should be taken to mean that rape is not a hideous crime, and one that still bears unnesecary social stigma; it is also undoubtedly true that victims of rape are generally female and that many perpetrators of the crime do so in order to assert their social superiority over the victim. But for all of this, I cannot see how this allows us to say that protecting the identity of the anonymously accused (not those who commit rape; those accused of it whether rightly or wrongly) is a bad thing. If rape, to take a much more old-fashioned line, destroys innocence, what does an accusation that has not been proven do? Innocent until proven guilty – so there should be no blame to rape victims (they have no guilt) but also not to those who did not commit rape (or, unfortunately, cannot be proven to have commited rape). Unless misogyny or sexism is to defend justice (and if you wish to argue the justice system is male-centred and biased, I could see a case, but that is not the point of this discussion), I think there is too much fury on this issue. But then again I would – I believe in the primacy of natural justice and equality before the law.

“Take rape prosecution out of this arena of ignorant, easily-wowed jurists, and place it firmly within a framework of criminal psychologists who know how to spot a lying sociopath, and you’ll see instant results.”

Umm, we have had, in the past 400 years in England and Wales, precisely one criminal trial without a jury. That was the fourth (or fifth?) time they had tried to prosecute the same people after the earlier ones were abandoned on the grounds of jury nobbling.

Now we don’t have jury trials because we’re a disgustingly patriarchal society (although we may indeed be that) nor because we’re women hating (ditto) or even because we don’t think rape is a serious crime (again, ditto).

We have jury trials because a jury is our protection, us the citizenry’s protection, against the State and their ability to prosecute us. “They” have to prove, to the satisfaction of those 12 good men and women and true, those our peers, that we were, beyond reasonable doubt, guilty of the offence claimed….and even, when one considers such as jury nullifcation that the claimed offence was indeed an offence.

Consider Clive Ponting:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clive_Ponting

“Ponting admitted revealing the information and was charged with a criminal offence under Section 2 of the Official Secrets Act of 1911. His defence was that the matter was in the public interest and its disclosure to a Member of Parliament was protected by Parliamentary Privilege.

Although Ponting fully expected to be imprisoned – and had brought his toothbrush and shaving kit along to the court on 11 February 1985 – he was acquitted by the jury. The acquittal came despite the judge’s direction to the jury that “the public interest is what the government of the day says it is”.”

Effectively the jury said that, whatever the government of the day claimed, that what Ponting had done was not a crime so the government can bugger off.

Now we can replace that system with something like what you advocate. A government appointed panel of experts will decide who is guilty and who is not. Indeed, many countries have tried this at various times. Stalin used variously the Cheka, MVD and KGB to do it, just to take one of the more notorious examples. Being less extreme and more realistic, might we discuss who would be appinting these people? Anyone think that justice is going to be better served if Julie Bindel is involved?

My apologies, for this will seem a little indelicate, but if you are seriously proposing the abolition of jury trial then you can fuck off quite frankly. And I mean that in the sincerest manner possible, this is not just some random Anglo-Saxonism as an insult, for you are advocating the abolition of the single most important civil liberty that we possess.

Go on, scoot, and take your totalitarianism with you.

100. George W Potter

Tessa@80 If you don’t mind I’ll address each of your points in turn:

1) A victim could see it as shaming but they shouldn’t do. It is there to protect the innocent being tarred and feathered until they’ve been proved guilty. Just look at some of the cases of how the lives of those falsely accused of rape have suffered despite being proven innocent. Murder is a different case as there there is no anonymity for those bringing the charges. Rape is treated as a special case where the victim is automatically given anonymity and it is impossible to compare it to other cases. You also seem to be encouraging vigilantism. Should those accused of a crime have the right not to be shamed for something they might well be innocent of. Yes. Abso-fucking-lutely.

2)This also could be said of several other types of crime, and does not anonymity for the victim potentially prevent others from coming forward and saying that the accuser has made false claims before? I do understand where you’re coming from here but ultimately it is better to protect the innocent and let the guilty occasionally go free than to falsely punish the innocent.

3) I agree with anonymity for the accusers, it’s not ideal but it seems to be the best that we can manage. To answer your question, the anonymity of the defendant will do nothing to aid the management of the case but nor will the anonymity of the accuser.

Now, there are two main reasons why I support defendant anonymity. The first is that an accusation alone is enough to destroy someone’s life and make them a pariah. Those accused of rape are often persecuted by and suffer ostracism from society before the case has even gone to trial. This is just as bad as the pain that rape victims suffered before they were granted anonymity.

The second is quite simply this. IF you are going to grant anonymity to the accusers then for the very sake of justice itself you must give the accused anonymity as well for the length of the trial. Otherwise there is, hypothetically speaking, nothing to stop someone making a false accusation, destroying the accused’s life and walking away laughing. Now, this is admittedly very rare but if you truly believe in equality before the law, justice, and innocent until proven guilty, then treating the defendant and the accuser the same before the court is one hundred per cent necessary.

But where has there proposed change come from and why? What have the Con/Dem alliance based this so-called necessity on? Where is the evidence that this needs to be changed?

And on the issue of anonymity? Why make sexual offences difference when it comes to the accused? If someone is accused of, say, robbery and they are charged with the offence their name ends up in the public domain. For anyone with a job that involves any kind of trust or responsibility a conviction or even an allegation of dishonesty or violence is likely lead to a set of career choices.

What about speculation about who the accused is? Say the accused works for a particular firm in a particular area. Someone else working for the same employer is likely to suffer from the tittle-tattle that inevitably occurs when such things are covered up.

Most importantly though it surrenders to the (vague) idea that somehow men accused of sexual offences are entitled to some sort of special protection that other defendants are not. This was the ideology behind the old “corroboration rule” that existed into the 1990?s that required judges in sexual cases to warn juries that women where prone to making up such allegations!

And absolutely offensive bilge being spewed by Melanie Phillips is of a similar ideology. Women have had hard enough time and uphill struggle reporting a sexual assault but this will worsen things drastically… These proposals just label women as fantasists and liars! Indeed it will silence women..

What the Con/Dem alliance is proposing obstructs justice.

There is absolutely no reason to change the status quo on anonymity, it just looks like utter misogyny by this right-wing lash-up of a coalition. And a way of telling women to shut-up. Why they pick on anonymity and rape is beyond me.

Helena Kennedy on rape anonymity:” the naming of accused rapists helped police investigations. “People who commit crimes like rape and serious crimes of violence, particularly sexually motivated ones, are often repeat offenders,” she said. “What the police will tell you is that very often the exposure of the identity of the accused brings forward other people.

“We really haven’t got it right on rape yet and this would be one of the ways in which we would undermine it further.”

@99

Certainly a worthy response to a suggestion that we should abolish jury trials for everything and replace it with a kangaroo court stuffed with feminist polemicists.

Of course (and you know I’m going to say this because you probably suspect it yourself) that’s not what I suggested at all. I’m not taking the piss, I know where you’re coming from and I take the rule of law as seriously as you do, but I recognised nothing of my argument in your rebuttal.

While you’re right to insist that a jury is there to protect innocent people from the arbitrary exercise of power by the state, and while I also stress that juries are no better or worse at this in rape trials than anything else, I respectfully suggest you’re putting your faith in the intention rather than focusing on the operation.

The issue is that rape is really easy to defend against by proving you had an honest belief that consent was granted (A simple “she’s a slapper who accepted my drinks and agreed to come home with me” is usually enough), and the jury decides whether the honest belief was present. Questions of fact are for juries to decide, unequivocally. The issue isn’t the jury.

Rather it’s the fact that the accuser must be asked at length irrelevant but implicitly damning personal questions about sexual history, behaviour around men, and general trustworthiness for the benefit of the jury should it be brought to trial. Most women flake out because it’s awful. The accused isn’t asked any of that stuff so from a procedure point of view he gets a free ride (notwithstanding the damage to his reputation, which is outside the perview of the CPS).

Ideally the ‘honest belief in consent’ test should be scrapped and replaced with something more balanced like a ‘reasonable belief in enthusiasm’ (that probably wouldn’t work, I’m no draughtsman, but you get the drift). Failing that though, the questions asked of the accuser should be asked of the accused also, and answers should be assessed by qualified criminal profilers as well as uninformed laypeople.

To be clear, I don’t have a problem with any jury, I just don’t like the fact that rape evidence has to be dumbed down to pander to it.

@ 102

Your proposal to raise the bar from a ‘belief in consent’ to a ‘reasonable belief in enthusiasm’ will inevitably mean a massive decline in sexual activity or half the population in jail.

“Before we get going, on a scale of one to ten, how keen are you on this?”

Great stuff.

Er Tim, I agree with you about jury trials being a good thing, but it’s a false dichotomy to say that we either have jury trials or we have Joe Stalin. You spend a lot of time getting hysterical over Europe, perhaps you should take a long hard look at the legal systems they have over there? Also, not all criminal trials in England and Wales use juries – trials for minor crimes don’t.

Even more so if a charged suspect breaks bail and goes missing. If anonymity only applied post-charge then this could lead to ridiculous situations.

Breaking bail is itself a crime, so I have no idea why you think anonymity would apply if that happened.

“Rather it’s the fact that the accuser must be asked at length irrelevant but implicitly damning personal questions about sexual history, behaviour around men, and general trustworthiness for the benefit of the jury should it be brought to trial.”

This concerns the judges management of the rial. There have been a number of instructionsin recent years to make clear that trawling for irrelevant details like that is to be stopped by said judge.

“Ideally the ‘honest belief in consent’ test should be scrapped and replaced with something more balanced like a ‘reasonable belief in enthusiasm’ (that probably wouldn’t work, I’m no draughtsman, but you get the drift).”

Well, yes, I see what you’re trying to say but it won’t work. For the crime is the non consent. Sex with consent? That’s rather something that as a society we celebrate. Sex without consent? That’s rape.

Consent is the heart of the whole matter and we can’t really gloss over that.

“To be clear, I don’t have a problem with any jury, I just don’t like the fact that rape evidence has to be dumbed down to pander to it.”

We have exactly the same problem in fraud trials ….I’m against no juries there too as I regard the jury as that most important of civil liberties and apologies, but I would sacrifice an awful lot of other things in order to keep that.

“You spend a lot of time getting hysterical over Europe, perhaps you should take a long hard look at the legal systems they have over there?”

Indeed I do and for this very reason: no juries.

107. Groundhogs of the World Unite!

Tim Worstall is such a dirty shitbag. Still, at least one day or the other he’ll be dead. We can all take comfort in that.

Alex/105: “Breaking bail is itself a crime, so I have no idea why you think anonymity would apply if that happened.”

And have they been found guilty of this crime yet in a court of law? No. They’re merely accused of breaking bail at this stage. Having to convict them – even in absentia – before “have you seen this fugitive” could be asked in public would give them a big head start. (It might just be a misunderstanding, after all. You wouldn’t want to ruin someone’s reputation by labelling them a fugitive from justice if it later turned out that there was an entirely legal explanation for why they’d apparently breached their bail conditions, would you?)

If they get as far as another country in that time, can extradition proceedings only be started if the local press and justice system agree not to report on what they’re being extradited for?

And yes, you could work around some of this with careful drafting and exemption of various crimes and situations from the anonymity laws, but that’s why I said some of the problems could be mitigated by well-drafted legislation.

There seem to be a number of people using correct terminology in one direction, but not in the other, and this could be colouring the way they view this issue.

For instance, Richard W:

There is no logical basis for saying just because a witness has anonymity the accused must have the same. One is a witness to a crime and the other has enough evidence against them for a criminal trial to proceed.

No, the first is a witness to an alleged crime. You are saying there should be anonymity for alleged victims. Similarly, we are saying that there should anonymity for alleged criminals. As far as the law is concerned, both the accused and the accuser are seen from behind a veil before a guilty/not guilty verdict is read out. The law does not know who did what, how or when until then. Why should one side benefit from anonymity and the other not, when both are viewed through the same disinterested blindfold by Lady Justice?

******

Tessa:

In what way does the defendants anonymity at all help the case being successfully managed?

Well it could help against a trial being prejudiced by the media.

But even it does not, the question you ask gets to a fundamental difference between those in this thread. It is like asking:

“In what way does the defendant not being tortured at all help bring terrorists to justice?”

My point is that the question misses the point. This proposal is not designed to help or hinder the success of trials. Whether it does or not is irrelevant. Those who think it is relevant, are the kind of people who see that the ends justify the means. I suspect many on that side of the argument are more likely to identify themselves as socialists rather than liberals. Meanwhile, those on my side of the argument, tend to believe that there are fundamental things you can’t do to individuals in certain situations. I do not celebrate that Iraq is democratic country, since hundreds of thousands had to die for it to happen. I do not celebrate that terrorists have been held at Guantanamo bay, since they are/were held without trial.

And I do not celebrate when accused rapists are named by the media leads to other victims coming forward, since there are those whose name is reported that are completely innocent who then end up victims themselves.

“Tim Worstall is such a dirty shitbag. Still, at least one day or the other he’ll be dead. We can all take comfort in that.”

Unless you’re the Prophet Elijah so will you be, although I will admit to finding little comfort in that fact.

@102

Your proposal to raise the bar from a ‘belief in consent’ to a ‘reasonable belief in enthusiasm’ will inevitably mean a massive decline in sexual activity or half the population in jail.

Only if you believe that all men are unable to find sex partners who actually want to fuck them. Doesn’t seem like a reliable assumption to me… In fact, I go so far as to say that it’s deeply fucked up.

re anonymity for the accused

I was on the fence re anonymity for the accused. John B, Carl Gardner and others who have made calm and reasonable comments along the lines of,

Because many rape trials are reliant on “repeated pattern of behaviour” evidence, [anonymity for the accused] would have negative consequences for rape trials more so than for other trials

along with the nature of the crime and the reasons for the attrition rate have inclined me against anonymity. Laurie’s and others’ misrepresentation and hyperbole did not in the slightest persuade me either way – they inclined me to be sceptical of their arguments.

re: discussion of what happens in court, juries etc.

It’s surprising that there is so much discussion of what should happen in court, what should be done about juries and so on and little or nothing about what happens before court – it’s almost as if commenters haven’t read papers produced about rape and the entire criminal justice system.

re: the ‘conviction rate’

The Stern Review says that, “… it is clear to us that the way the six per cent conviction rate figure has been able to dominate the public discourse on rape, without explanation, analysis and context, has been to the detriment of public understanding and other important outcomes for victims.”

Let’s have some more explanation, analysis and context.

113. Watchman

Tim,

I’d suggest that erudition and compassion might be beyond that particular commentator, so your post may be wasted.

The basic problem is this: Most trials revolve around a victim alleging she did not consent to what took place and a defendant who claims that she did. There will typically be little if any other evidence to support either version. A jury is not asked which person they believe but whether they can exclude any reasonable possibility that the defendant might be telling the truth. Inevitably the guilty will walk free and I see no solution to this which does not involve abandoning the presumption of innocence.

Let us say for the sake of argument that 9 out of 10 acquitted rape defendants is in fact guilty of rape. This may not be an unreasonable assumption. Distinguishing which are guilty is which one is innocent is more difficult and it is a task which by definition will have already defeated the courts. Removing anonymity will have a devastating effect on the lives of the acquitted. For some, perhaps a small minority, this will be entirely undeserved. To justify changing the law one would need to demonstrate some tangible benefit to victims which outweighs this injustice and I don’t believe this has been done. The government would benefit victims in a far more practical way by abandoning its plans to nobble the DNA database.

115. Richard W

109. Alex

There seem to be a number of people using correct terminology in one direction, but not in the other, and this could be colouring the way they view this issue.

For instance, Richard W:

There is no logical basis for saying just because a witness has anonymity the accused must have the same. One is a witness to a crime and the other has enough evidence against them for a criminal trial to proceed.

‘ No, the first is a witness to an alleged crime. You are saying there should be anonymity for alleged victims. Similarly, we are saying that there should anonymity for alleged criminals. As far as the law is concerned, both the accused and the accuser are seen from behind a veil before a guilty/not guilty verdict is read out. The law does not know who did what, how or when until then. Why should one side benefit from anonymity and the other not, when both are viewed through the same disinterested blindfold by Lady Justice? ‘

I am not a lawyer so I would be obliged if any lawyers want to correct me on my technical understanding of English law. It is my understanding that the trial is not taking place to ascertain whether a crime was committed. To proceed to a trial a crime is assumed. So we don’t have an ‘ alleged rape victim ‘ we have a victim of an assumed crime and a witness to the facts. The alleged part is not about whether a crime was committed but merely whether the person in the dock was the perpetrator. On that basis there is nothing wrong with affording anonymity to the victim of the crime but it does not logically flow that the accused needs to have the same right.

116. Watchman

Richard,

I’m not a lawyer either, but a crime need not have happened if the jury decides an incident was not criminal. Take Kingsnorth Power Station – no-one doubts the protesters were at the power station, but the jury concluded they had committed no crime, and therefore no crime took place.

In other cases a crime may have happened, but a suspect is found not guilty. For example, if something is stolen, someone must have stolen it. However, the person being tried may or may not be that person, but regardless of the verdict the crime will still have happened.

The same applies to rape. Some rapes undoubtedly happened (in legal terms – I am not subscribing to the view that rapes are commonly misreported) – a violent attack for example. In such cases the jury is deciding whether the defendant was the person who committed the rape. In other cases, where two people are alone and have different views of whether consent were given, a case can still be brought before the court, but in this case the identities of both sexual partners are known to the court, and the jury is deciding whether the act of sexual intercourse was consensual or criminal, that is to say, if there was actually a crime or not.

To put it bluntly, the jury actually decide if the person standing trial is guilty of the crime of which they are accussed. It does not matter if the crime itself happened independently of the specific accusation.

Tim Rand does nort even live in this country so who cares what his views on rape are. Or anyting else for that matter.

Nothing like the issue of rape to show up the right wing trolls. I guess if they are not allowed to rape with impunity they must not think they are proper men.

118. George W Potter

Richard W@115 No. A trial is to decide if a crime has been committed and whether the accused is guilty of the crime. IF you don’t understand that then you are missing something very fundamental in our legal system. Just because the CPS think they have a chance of a successful prosecution does not mean that a crime was committed.

“Oh no hang on I forgot! The MENZ!! What about the poor MENZ?”

Seriously, just stop doing that. It hasn’t been remotely funny for several years, & yet people keep on flogging. Are you the sort of person that still laughs at “I don’t like it” or the silly David Brent dance?

Good to see an article on this. I was hoping that I wasn’t the only one on here who noticed it in the coalition deal. Thanks, Laurie.

There are several reasons why anonymity for all criminals is a really bad idea. My girlfriend works at a place where vulnerable youngsters live. If someone there were being charged with drug offences, they would be suspended immediately and quite rightly so.

If we had anonymity, that would not happen in the same way – you can’t simply suspend people and not say why, it will get out eventually, so you don’t tell employers?

The arguments already given about why rape victims, and why vulnerable victims and witnesses have anonymity are compelling. Therefore there should be compelling reasons to grant anonymity to suspects.

So far, I’ve not seen such compelling arguments. Mainly it seems to be “it’s not FAIR!”, which when you weigh up against the issue of serial rapists like Worboys being more likely to get away with their crimes because women are less likely to come forward.

There’s no need for people on either side to start trading insults, by the way. The issue is already pretty fraught enough. Yes, I’m looking at you sally.

121. Richard W

@ George W Potter

My point wasn’t really as silly as it might seem. Legally is the trial really determining whether a crime was committed or is it examining the facts and pronouncing upon the facts whether the prosecution have proven their case.

Richard W,

“[the English criminal trial] is shaped by the twin principles that the prosecution, as the complainant, has the task of making the tribunal sure of guilt and that the defendant has the choice of answering the prosecution case or remaining silent.

“The trial process is a contest between two parties, though, in some respects, it is no longer entirely adversarial. In it, the parties deploy their respective cases before a tribunal the role of which is primarily to listen, intervene only when necessary to ensure a fair and efficient trial and, at the end, to decide the issue of guilt.”

– Lord Justice Auld in his Review of the Criminal Courts of England and Wales.

I’d have more sympathy with the coalition’s plans if a) they hadn’t singled out one particular crime (whose victims are overwhelmingly female) and b) they put as much effort into educating boys and young men about the need for consent¹. Where is the New Politics Coalition™ plan to reduce the incidence of rape in particular and sexist assumptions surrounding consent in general? It’s worrying that there is still a debate around the particular words “no” and “yes”. The implication behind this law is that there are tons of women out there lying about rape – hence the need to legislate – which as we have seen is simply not the case (the polar opposite, in fact).

As it stands this policy looks like red-top pleasing at best and outright misogyny at worst. Oh brave new world.

Oh, I forgot my footnote:

¹ I’m aware that men make up a small percentage of rape victims (around 3% IIRC, tho’ probably under-reported also) but this law seems specifically designed to get at women and reinforce the tabloid myth of women crying wolf.

” but this law seems specifically designed to get at women and reinforce the tabloid myth of women crying wolf.”

yup, Conservatives hate woman,

126. George W Potter

Sally, your misandrist and sexist views are shocking and disgusting. I suggest you crawl back under your rock.

(Incidentally, I despise the tories, but to stereotype them as women-haters is inaccurate and insulting).

I find it quite shocking how many right wing Conservatives who come on here shouting the odds about law and order suddenly find this, on the road to Damascus conversion for criminals rights when it comes to the issue of rape.

I can only conclude that either they hate woman or they want to protect rapists. But seeing as these same people don’t think a woman should be allowed to control the reproductive parts of her body without consulting strange clergy in pointed hats, I will stay with my belief that conservatives hate woman.

And if you don’t like that, well I could not give a toss.

128. Richard W

Although Sally might be bit too forthright in her take on the issue she does raise an interesting point. The same type of people on the Right who scream that the criminal justice system is biased in favour of the accused against victims suddenly do an about turn when it comes to rape. Then the same people become hysterical about the rights of the accused and it is not hard to believe that they are implying that rape victims are lying. It is hard to believe that those who would have individuals banged up on terrorism charges just for looking like a swarthy Middle Eastern with a beard suddenly discover justice when it comes to rape.

129. Richard W

127. sally

Err, ditto

The only proof that you need that it’s a tabloid-fodder attack on justice for women is that it doesn’t apply to other serious crimes. The Sun would scream blue murder if it wasn’t allowed to print full detail mugshots of suspected murderers or accused paedos, but rape’s never reported on in case it alienates their mostly young male audience.

Giving anonimity to all people accused of serious crimes (or at least, anything serious enough to get you fired or make you look unemployable) would be a fair and proportionate way to address what people claim the problem is – an accusation carrying the same weight as a conviction with employers. What’s being proposed, in contrast, is a nasty bit of 1970s chauvinist regression.

Pagar@104

Yeah, I think Dunc@111 has it right, that’s a seriously creepy way of looking at it.

Let’s be blunt: if your partner’s not voicing an affirmative every few seconds, without prompting, then you’re probably not doing it right and should try something else (or cut your losses and call a taxi).

As nobody can agree on what ‘consent’ should be (continuous? revocable? implied terms?) it seems a harebrained test compared to something like ‘enthusiasm’ (which only aliens and robot people have trouble recognising).

In case those above haven’t noticed, some who are arguing against this post are neither right-wing nor conservative. Pointing out the hypocrisy of the lowest common denominator of those on my side of the argument doesn’t demolish the argument. Just to be clear.

Indeed I do and for this very reason: no juries.

That is a rather bizarre reason to be against being in the EU.

Giving anonimity to all people accused of serious crimes (or at least, anything serious enough to get you fired or make you look unemployable) would be a fair and proportionate way to address what people claim the problem is – an accusation carrying the same weight as a conviction with employers. What’s being proposed, in contrast, is a nasty bit of 1970s chauvinist regression.

Well they could and should do this for all serious crimes. That they have not done so though, doesn’t mean there’s any chauvinism in their actions. They are simply giving anonymity to the accused for a crime where the accuser already has it. Doing that simple thing is not male chauvinism. Because most rape victims are women, doing nothing keeps in place a female chauvinist status quo.

Consent based on “enthusiasm” would have problems for many engaging in BDSM activities.

@Alex

“Because most rape victims are women, doing nothing keeps in place a female chauvinist status quo.”

Uh, rape law at the moment isn’t exactly favourable to women either you know. You should be careful bandying terms like ‘female chauvinism’ around, as it’s nothing like the status quo.

Uh, rape law at the moment isn’t exactly favourable to women either you know.

You said that giving anonymity to the (mostly male) rape defendants would be male chauvinism which, by your logic, follows from the fact that they’re mostly male. Well, following your logic, since the accusers are mostly female, then them alone having anonymity is female chauvinism.

You should be careful bandying terms like ‘female chauvinism’ around, as it’s nothing like the status quo.

I was replying to you bandying around terms like “male chauvinism” around, as it’s nothing like what the proposal actually is.

Alex, you seem to be suggesting that there should be an equivalence between the rights given to victims of crime and the rights given to those accused of crime.
We don’t imprison victims of crime until the trial date if they can’t make bail, but it doesn’t follow that it’s discrimination to imprison suspects under the same conditions (even if, in practice, we only do this for suspects for certain crimes and not others). There is no inherent reason why the rights given to victims should be the same as the rights given to suspects.

Nor is taking actions to reduce an existing structural imbalance discrimination against those who currently benefit from the imbalance.

Consent based on “enthusiasm” would have problems for many engaging in BDSM activities.

As far as I can tell from the outside, many of them are actually well ahead of the median person in terms of establishing and checking for enthusiastic consent and discussing this with their partners in advance.

137. Watchman

cim,

“Alex, you seem to be suggesting that there should be an equivalence between the rights given to victims of crime and the rights given to those accused of crime.”

Well, yes. That’s what innocent until proven guilty means: until found guilty we are all innocent. You can only start taking away rights from people when they are found guilty. Any problems with that?

138. Watchman

cim,

A further point.

“There is no inherent reason why the rights given to victims should be the same as the rights given to suspects.”

Apart from the fact the innocent should have the same rights, regardless of any other considerations?

I think you have confused how rights work, and see them as something government gives. But surely we possess our rights inalienabliy (other than if we commit a crime) and so therefore one innocent person (that is someone not proven guilty) must have the same rights as another innocent person. Structual imbalances are all very well, but to offer different levels of rights to people is fundamentally unfair and unjust.

Gwyn @131

Let’s be blunt: if your partner’s not voicing an affirmative every few seconds, without prompting, then you’re probably not doing it right and should try something else (or cut your losses and call a taxi).

Gwyn, you are either an incredible lover or your whole sexual experience is limited to multiple viewings of Debbie Does Dallas.

As nobody can agree on what ‘consent’ should be (continuous? revocable? implied terms?) it seems a harebrained test compared to something like ‘enthusiasm’ (which only aliens and robot people have trouble recognising).

This is a fair point- we all instinctively know that our partner is consenting to and enjoying the sexual experience.

However I’d have thought that lack of enthusiasm would be even harder to prove in a court of law than lack of consent.

Watchman: Okay then, which is unfair – that suspects of crime may be imprisoned until the end of the trial if they are unable to make bail or subsequently breach its terms – or that victims of crime and other witnesses for the prosecution (and indeed for the defence) are not imprisoned in similar conditions in case they too flee rather than give evidence?

At the moment, suspects and victims/witnesses have differential rights in terms of which are allowed to be detained before and during the trial. Which way should these rights be equalised?

Is it unfair, even, that suspects of crimes may be arrested and charged with those crimes, and made to answer numerous questions in court about their activities, when other people who are also presumed at this stage to be innocent of the crime, living as they do hundreds of miles away and never having met the victim, are not put through this process or even questioned by police in connection with the crime?

While the fundamental human rights that a suspect and a victim has may be the same, that does not mean that the state is required to treat them exactly equally, and indeed it would be absurd for them to do so in most cases.

“That’s what innocent until proven guilty means: until found guilty we are all innocent.”

No, no it doesn’t. It means that the presumption is that a person is innocent and the prosecutor needs to prove to the court’s satisfaction that they did do it, rather than the reverse where the presumption is that they are guilty and the defence needs to prove the much harder proposition that they didn’t do it.

“At the moment, suspects and victims/witnesses have differential rights in terms of which are allowed to be detained before and during the trial. Which way should these rights be equalised?”

I can see the advantage of having someone suspected kept in custody until the trial, but no advantage of printing their name.

@Alex

Here’s what I mean: rape law, as currently construed, does not in totality resemble female chauvinism, but the act of granting anonimity to rape suspects (and ONLY rape suspects) does essentially constitute male chauvinism. It should apply to all serious crimes, or none at all.

If, instead, we were currently granting all serious crime suspects anonimity, and the new government was proposing to abolish anonimity for rape suspects (and ONLY rape suspects) then you would be correct in calling that female chauvinism.

@pagar

We can rely on the courts to apply the law and come up with a practical test, that’s pretty much what they do. I’m more interested in the ideological value of ‘enthusiastic’ (“yes please!”) sex enshrined in statute, rather than the resigned nature of ‘consensual’ (“alright, I suppose”) sex. There’d be less pressure on teenagers to have sex before they’re ready, less incentive to skip contraception, less of a market for rohypnol merchants, free love, world peace, cupcakes for all etc.

Obviously I’d like to explore the idea properly, but I’m be too lazy to actually write a blog myself so I’ll just chuck it out there.

Dave: “I can see the advantage of having someone suspected kept in custody until the trial, but no advantage of printing their name.”

I disagree that there’s no advantage to allowing their name to be publicised (see my comment at 91), but obviously there’s room for disagreement over the pros and cons of that. What I was objecting to was the notion that the suspect’s rights had to in some way match the victim/witness’ rights, when that leads to clearly absurd situations.

144. Rabid Raccoon

1) If you spend a year in jail during trial and are aquited you receive NO compensation it is considered part of the process. This, to me, is shocking regardless of the crime

2)My wife is a solicitor she has had 3 rape cases all of which cracked before a trial date was even set. In every case it was the same story, Girl meets guy at club, girl goes back to guys house, girl has sex, girl has sex, girl reports rape, in two of the cases immediately in the third some time after.

The third case was almost certainly a case of drug rape and if she had reported it immediately then she could have been tested for drugs and the guy would have been convicted.
The other two both involved minor celebirites and there was a lot of pressure to keep it out the press (this was done successfully).
In both cases it was a question of the guy claimed the girl consented and the girl said that she didnt.
What is a guy to do? Should we carry forms around which women can sign to indicate that they are agreeable to it?
How can men prove that a drunken one night stand was consentual?

“What is a guy to do?”

Stop raping people?

“Should we carry forms around which women can sign to indicate that they are agreeable to it?”

Should we sign it for them if they’re too drunk to hold a pen?

“How can men prove that a drunken one night stand was consentual?”

By only having consensual one night stands?

I know you’re married and so assume you’re a good man, but you must understand that the above questions aren’t rational. They come from a place of insecurity about sex and frustration with women, rather than any genuine concern about reducing incidents of rape.

I’m not saying anything about how you view your wife or women in general by the way, not at all. I’m just saying that if you ever wondered about those above questions as a young man, you weren’t the first and I suspect not the last either.

But they are the questions of a young man, nothing more.

Way to poison the well, Gwyn.

I’m now sure that any contribution I make will be valued equally…

Well, I’m sure that would be an improvement, wouldn’t it? I didn’t even bother making fun of your last comment.

In seriousness, trying to say rape law puts innocent, thoughtful men in danger is a logical non-starter as well as fairly offensive to men themselves. I’ve said my piece, you know what’s what, so feel free to speak your brain.

No, it isn’t a logical non-starter. A badly drafted piece of rape law could put men who are innocent at risk of being found guilty. You’re flirting with self-evidence saying otherwise, & self-evidence is just a euphamism for “I’m right, & I won’t consider any other view”. In other words: not really an argument, just an assertion.

As for you not “making fun” of my last comment, well thank you. But I don’t really see how my pointing out an ancient feminist meme ceased being amusing several years ago is something you could really tease me over anyway. “Men” was mispelled, sarcasm was utilised, I got it. I got it several hundred times, in fact. I don’t think I have a particularly short attention span…

“A badly drafted piece of rape law could put men who are innocent at risk of being found guilty.”

The courts would only interpret a statute in this way if there was clear parliamentary intention that they do so. I don’t want to sunject anyone to an exploration of where rule of law and parliamentary supremacy meet, but as I’ve got an exam on it in two weeks I could be persuaded.

I can see why you might think I’m being self-referential (I prefer egosourcing!) but I’m having trouble coming up with a scenario where an innocent, thoughtful man might put himself in a situation where he would be at risk of facing a rape allegation following consensual sex. My imagination fails me, can you do better?

“but I’m having trouble coming up with a scenario where an innocent, thoughtful man might put himself in a situation where he would be at risk of facing a rape allegation following consensual sex. My imagination fails me, can you do better?”

Because he has consensual sex with one of those women (2%? 3%? 10%? of allegations remember?) who makes a false claim about having been raped?

“What is a guy to do?”

To put it bluntly, stay at home and have a wank. This wouldn’t be such a bad outcome, for many reasons.

Although it may explain around 50% of this thread.

Gwn @ 150

I’m having trouble coming up with a scenario where an innocent, thoughtful man might put himself in a situation where he would be at risk of facing a rape allegation following consensual sex.

Don’t know if it will do any good but I refer you to my post @ 28.

I can see why you might think I’m being self-referential (I prefer egosourcing!) but I’m having trouble coming up with a scenario where an innocent, thoughtful man might put himself in a situation where he would be at risk of facing a rape allegation following consensual sex. My imagination fails me, can you do better?

What a strange piece of framing you persist in using. Why does an innocent, thoughtless man deserve to be in jail?

The entire point of anonymity for those *accused* of rape is because it is an emotive crime that will tar the accused for the rest of their life even if they are innocent.

There is no motive for the law except to ensure that the few people who are actually innocent do not have their lives ruined by the claim. They don’t have the general public thinking “no smoke without fire”. They don’t have local vigilantes deciding that a court of law is not enough, they will mete out their own justice. It is to protect innocent people from thuggish idiots and nattering gossips. Maybe you could do an article on the repercussions that innocent victims of false rape accusations have had to deal with, fair and balanced reporting and all that.

This is a great new law from this government, and long overdue. I’d argue that it should extend to other emotive crimes as well.

What a strange piece of framing you persist in using. Why does an innocent, thoughtless man deserve to be in jail?

No MENZ are innocent surely, thats the crux of the argument if you’ve been raped it seems.

I can see why you might think I’m being self-referential (I prefer egosourcing!) but I’m having trouble coming up with a scenario where an innocent, thoughtful man might put himself in a situation where he would be at risk of facing a rape allegation following consensual sex. My imagination fails me, can you do better?

A scenario where two people are drunk, one believes the other consents to sex and is capable of consent, they have sex, the following morning one of them feels she/he did not consent.to sex. My guess is that this is not uncommon but I admit have no idea what proportion of allegations such a scenario accounts for.

Neil@152: 100% this.

Pagar@153: Your earlier post is one I agree with, but it’s not what I meant. Everyone can turn some hearsay into a two-sided story, but can anyone construct a hypothetical situation?

James@154: I’m biased against thoughtless sex. Is that so bad?

Dave@156: I wouldn’t know. Would you?

Unrelated to the above discussion: Here’s a clue why the new government only dares to propose anonimity for people accused of rape: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1282131/PhD-student-Stephen-Griffiths-tells-court-crossbow-cannibal.html

but the act of granting anonimity to rape suspects (and ONLY rape suspects) does essentially constitute male chauvinism

What I’m trying to say is that by this logic, the act of granting anonymity to those who accuse others of rape (and ONLY those who accuse others of rape) does essentially constitute female chauvinism.

“How can men prove that a drunken one night stand was consentual?” By only having consensual one night stands?

Wow, what a fatuous reply. You know full well that doing X does not mean that one can prove they actually did X.

@160: I think there’s an underlying assumption that if the sex actually is consensual, then you’re not going to be accused of rape over it, therefore there will be no need to prove anything. Given the social stigma and general unpleasantness involved in reporting rape, that seems like a fairly safe assumption to me. Of course, I’m also making the assumption that women don’t particularly like getting pelvic exams and being questioned about their sexual activities by police officers for no good reason.

James@154: I’m biased against thoughtless sex. Is that so bad?

Well if you prefer things analytical and cerebral then, well, whatever gets you off. But attempting to conflate criminality and thoughtlessness is not on.

163. Genji Monogatari

What confused and muddled hysteria.

“This is not about the human rights of those accused of crimes: it is a rapists’ charter designed to protect men from lying women who, by not being properly shamed for speaking to the police when men rape, beat, assault and invade their bodies, have clearly had it all their own way for far too long.”

“Lying women” haven’t been raped, beaten or assaulted and this proposal will have no effect on the victims of rape whose bodies have been invaded. The only women that accuse men of rape who will be affected by this are those who falsely accuse men.

164. Rabid Raccoon

Gwyn

You say these are questions of a young man, sure, but should a young man’s life be blighted because as a student he thought he got lucky, the girl seemed into it and consented at the time, then the next day the whole thing seemed a drunken haze and she decides that she cannot of consented and reports him as a rapist. Mutual friends of both say were completely into each other and were even getting quite physical in public, the police dont proceed on the grounds its unprovable in court, yet in the interim she has managed to drum up some support in the local student newspaper where he is named and shamed and forced to leave the university. For doing nothing more than the rest of the student body were doing at the same time.

He has essentially been punished for a crime that he was never tried and found guilty of, and this is what annonymity is about. Ensuring that people arent named and shamed, and therefore punished, without due process.

Naming and shaming guys who are sleazy, disrespectful etc. as being sleaze balls is fine though its usually obvious who they are and most girls dont give them the time of day.

on the other hand, what about James Bond,. a more sleazy man you could not hope to meet. But there are a lot of women who say they would gladly have a martini fuelled one night stand with him.

165. Tom (iow)

The article claims that granting anonymity to people accused is calling the complaiants liars.

If you accept that logic (which I don’t) then anonymity for complainants has to go as it breaches the right to a fair trial by calling all defendants liars.

I think there’s an underlying assumption that if the sex actually is consensual, then you’re not going to be accused of rape over it

There are such things as false accusations. Go back and read the thread.

Today my daughter was convicted of perverting the course of justice in making a false allegation of rape. Many of you will think Fantastic, but then you did not see my daughter on the night of her attack. without a shred of evidence 12 people convicted her of this crime. This was meant to be trial by jury yet the judge spent 1 hour 45 mins putting her down and 20 mins saying nothing about the fact that in fact no one could know what happened that night because no one seen it no person was found and no person was named by her and a fleeting oh by the way she has never been in trouble in her life and there is no evidence of her having any psychological history. The most complex case to have been heard by both the prosecution and defense council was decided by the jury in less than 2 hours. This was not justice yeah and you can say your her mother and you will say that. My daughter has been through the most horrific ordeal, police interrogation and finally a conviction of being a liar and told by the judge she will spend years in prison for being a wicked woman. As for the men who inflicted this on her they got away Scott free WOMEN BEWARE IF YOU ARE RAPED AND YOU TELL THE POLICE YOU COULD END UP SERVING THE RAPIST SENTENCE.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Annie B

    RT @libcon: Shiny happy rape culture. http://bit.ly/cb39P4

  2. Liberal Conspiracy

    Shiny happy rape culture. http://bit.ly/cb39P4

  3. Gareth Nicholas

    RT @libcon: Shiny happy rape culture. http://bit.ly/cb39P4

  4. Joe Rooney

    RT @libcon: Shiny happy rape culture. http://bit.ly/cb39P4

  5. Rezina

    RT @libcon: Shiny happy rape culture. http://bit.ly/cb39P4

  6. Brendan O'Connell

    RT @libcon: Shiny happy rape culture. http://bit.ly/cb39P4

  7. Susan

    RT @libcon: Shiny happy rape culture. http://bit.ly/cb39P4

  8. Elly

    RT @libcon Shiny happy rape culture. http://bit.ly/cb39P4 << Good article, shame about the title! (via @boudledidge)

  9. Clare Cochrane

    It's woman-hating to remove anonymity from rape victims or give it to accused RT: @libcon: Shiny happy rape culture. http://bit.ly/cb39P4

  10. earwicga

    RT @libcon Shiny happy rape culture. http://bit.ly/96YANe < This! by Laurie Penny

  11. earwicga

    If you happen to read @lauriepenny s post on @LibCon http://bit.ly/c9Q5O7 take a minute to comment and thank her for writing it.

  12. sianushka

    RT @earwicga: If you happen to read @lauriepenny s post on @LibCon http://bit.ly/c9Q5O7 take a minute to comment and thank her for writing it.

  13. sunny hundal

    The government is calling victims of rape liars http://bit.ly/96YANe, says @pennyred

  14. Nicolas Redfern

    RT @sunny_hundal: The government is calling victims of rape liars http://bit.ly/96YANe, says @pennyred

  15. Gus Baker

    RT @sunny_hundal: The government is calling victims of rape liars http://bit.ly/96YANe, says @pennyred

  16. sallymumbycroft

    RT @sunny_hundal: The government is calling victims of rape liars http://bit.ly/96YANe, says @pennyred

  17. Hannah Mudge

    RT @earwicga: If you happen to read @lauriepenny s post on @LibCon http://bit.ly/c9Q5O7 take a minute to comment and thank her for writ …

  18. Chris Plowman

    RT @sunny_hundal: The government is calling victims of rape liars http://bit.ly/96YANe, says @pennyred

  19. James Graham

    I'm inclined to oppose this anonymity for people charged with rape law, but this article doesn't exactly inspire me: http://bit.ly/aYj83A

  20. Soho Politico

    Takes a brave person to read thru the comments section of this @libcon post on rape defendents' anonymity. Yikes. http://bit.ly/cb39P4

  21. Antonia Bance

    RT @SohoPolitico Takes a brave person to read the comments of this @libcon post on rape defendents' anonymity. Yikes. http://bit.ly/cb39P4

  22. becky pants

    RT @sunny_hundal The government is calling victims of rape liars http://bit.ly/96YANe, says @pennyred

  23. Melissa

    coalition government fail: anonymity for rapists. http://bit.ly/a2JPfP #LibCon #vaw

  24. sunny hundal

    @suzannemoore197 I did, your column is linked from our blog today: http://bit.ly/cb39P4

  25. Kate

    'Women who speak about rape are invariably accused of lying. Now even our government is calling us liars' http://tinyurl.com/33cjr53

  26. Kevin Hardern

    RT @melissaparee: coalition government fail: anonymity for rapists. http://bit.ly/a2JPfP #LibCon Now this really is objective (NOT)

  27. Hard to explain « Shot by both sides

    [...] Here’s an excellent piece from Liberal Conspiracy. [...]

  28. Molesworth

    Happy shiney rape culture in the UK http://bit.ly/bPT6GQ #feminismfriday

  29. More Food for Thought « Reclaim The Pub!

    [...] two blogposts by Laurie Penny on Liberal Conspiracy and Rumbold on Pickled Politics show both sides of the argument from a woman-friendly perspective. [...]





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