Tory MSP asks: was rape victim a prostitute?


10:10 am - February 14th 2011

by Newswire    


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A leading Scottish Conservative MSP is under attack for suggesting the latest victim of rape in Glasgow may have been a prostitute.

Bill Aitken, shadow minister for community safety, apologised to the woman after making the comments in an interview with the Sunday Herald.

Aitken has been a District Court Judge, Justice of the Peace and is a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Glasgow. He is also convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s justice committee – which helps formulates rape laws.

Police officers and women’s organisations reacted with outrage to his claims.

Detectives in Glasgow were“incredulous”. One senior source said: “Is he saying she deserved it? It’s mind-boggling. How will that poor girl feel?”

…more at The Herald, Scotland

At the F Word, Jess McCabe adds:

This is an ignorant and disastrous message for any elected representative to be spouting, but Aitken is the shadow minister for community safety and convenes the Scottish Parliament’s justice committee, which the Herald says helps to formulate rape policy. Aitken has also been a District Court Judge and a Justice of the Peace, and is a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Glasgow.

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Reader comments


1. Chaise Guevara

The article could do with more quotes from Aitken. Based on the info given here, it’s not clear if he said anything wrong. Assuming the Herald article is correct, however, he’s a bellend.

Sunday Herald: “Asked whether there is a difference between the rape of women who work as prostitutes and those who don’t, he said…”

That is a good example of journalists doing their business. An awkward question was asked of a fool who gave a stupid answer.

Which is why journalists are essential to reporting of facts. Delivery of press releases from the constabulary and MSP to the press would not have revealed this story. Revelation required that a journalist got of his/her bottom and asked the pertinent questions.

3. So Much For Subtlety

He probably is a bell-end but the question is what was he trying to get at. He said:

Asked to comment on the series of so-called “lane rapes”, Aitken said: “I really think we need to know a bit more about these. They are not always as they seem to be, put it that way.”

“He disputed the location of the attack, and said: “If this woman was dragged halfway through the town then it just couldn’t possibly happen. So has nobody asked her what she was doing in Renfrew Lane?

“Somebody should be asking her what she was doing in Renfrew Lane. Did she go there with somebody? … Now, Renfrew Lane is known as a place where things happen, put it that way.”

“Asked to clarify, he said: “It’s an area where a lot of the hookers take their clients. Now that may not have happened in this case. But you know … what was happening? There’s always a lot more to these city-centre rapes than meets the eye.”

I assume what he was trying to say is that rape accusations have been known to be made by prostitutes after they have provided a service when their clients refuse to pay. It is one of the few ways that a prostitute without a large pimp can make someone pay.

Notice that this is not saying prostitutes cannot be raped.

Of course he was an idiot to say anything off message, but it is sad in its own way. Because instead of having a grown up conversation about rape, he has been bullied into going back on message and coming out with the usual boring platitudes that no one really believes and do not get us anywhere.

4. Chaise Guevara

@ 3 So Much for Subtlety

As an MSP it’s unclear why he thinks it’s his business to speculate on whether or not the alleged victim is telling the truth for an individual occurrence like this. He’s got every right to comment, of course, but that leaves the question of why he thought it would be a good idea. If I got into the local paper after being, say, mugged, I’d be pretty angry if some local politician was quoted in the article musing about all the false mugging claims he’d heard about lately.

You’re right, though: he’s NOT saying “who cares, she was probably just a hooker anyway”, and the flip side of this article’s ambiguity is that it would be possible to leap to that unfair conclusion as well.

5. So Much For Subtlety

4. Chaise Guevara – “As an MSP it’s unclear why he thinks it’s his business to speculate on whether or not the alleged victim is telling the truth for an individual occurrence like this. He’s got every right to comment, of course, but that leaves the question of why he thought it would be a good idea.”

A former judge who sits on the Judicial Committee, is asked a direct question about some rapes. I have no idea why he might have responded to a direct question in his area of expertise. Again the real shame here is that he is being bullied into toeing the PC line and hence de facto silence when we could be having a real debate about rape.

“If I got into the local paper after being, say, mugged, I’d be pretty angry if some local politician was quoted in the article musing about all the false mugging claims he’d heard about lately.”

And yet if there were false mugging claims the rest of us might want to know.

6. Chaise Guevara

@ 5 So Much for Subtlety

“A former judge who sits on the Judicial Committee, is asked a direct question about some rapes. ”

Good point.

“And yet if there were false mugging claims the rest of us might want to know.”

Absolutely, but I’d still be aggrieved if my specific case was more-or-less randomly picked as an example. And discussing something still under investigation like that is not a good idea most of the time. The sensible line would have been “no comment”.

Again the real shame here is that he is being bullied into toeing the PC line and hence de facto silence when we could be having a real debate about rape.

And what exactly should be be “debating” about rape?

And yet if there were false mugging claims the rest of us might want to know.

There undoubtedly are (as there are occasional false reports for all crimes), but you don’t hear anybody banging on about it, do you? I wonder why it’s only rape where false accusations attract so much attention?

8. So Much For Subtlety

7. Dunc – “And what exactly should be be “debating” about rape?”

I dunno. How about the fact that jurors are engaging in massive civil protest by refusing to convict despite the letter of the law? How is it that society’s values are so poorly reflected in our laws on rape? You think that might be a topic worthy of discussion?

“There undoubtedly are (as there are occasional false reports for all crimes), but you don’t hear anybody banging on about it, do you? I wonder why it’s only rape where false accusations attract so much attention?”

Well for a start it is mainly a he-said, she-said crime. There is objective evidence for most other crimes. But mainly it is because there is no one who claims that every mugging victim is absolutely truthful, that suspected muggers ought to be locked up simply on the word of an alleged victim, that the entire British legal tradition needs to be changed to make sure more alleged muggers are jailed and so on.

But by all means, keep on assuming it is misogyny. That will help.

9. Rosalind Hardie

Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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  8. MUSHKUSH

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  9. SSP 2011

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  10. donmackeen

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