Clowns & Jokers

Stuck in the middle.... Left, right, centre. It's a mess out there.

Friday, January 26, 2007

In light of the current situation with ongoing rape law reform, I admit it was also refreshing to read an opinion from another woman blogger on the issues.

Ellee presents some interesting research below. Its good to know that this issue is not simply a cause for the Left, or 'traditional' feminists per se. It is an issue many women I know do regard as such - an issue - because we do live in a society where we socialise more often and more frequently and we all drink. Fact.

"...researchers have found that jurors often took the view that it was ‘reasonable’ for a man to assume that silence represented sexual consent, even if the silence was due to the fact that the woman was totally intoxicated.

Because it is unlawful to conduct research with real juries, researchers from The Economic and Social Research Council used trial and jury room simulations to find out how the legislation was working. These are its main findings, showing that gender stereotyping is very much evident:

In situations where the woman had become involuntary drunk, many jurors continued to hold her partially responsible for what took place - either because she accepted drinks from the defendant, failed to stand her ground against pressure to drink more or did not take adequate care to ensure that her drinks were not ’spiked’ (by either extra alcohol or drugs) .

Even when a woman had unknowingly drunk spiked drinks, juries were reluctant to convict defendants of rape unless they were convinced that the drink had been spiked with the specific intention of sexual assault, as opposed to ‘loosening up’ a reluctant partner.

It also emerged that jurors were less inclined to equate ‘taking advantage’ of a drunken women with rape in situations in which the woman’s normal behaviour was to drink heavily in the company of men.

By contrast, in cases where the date rape drug - Rohypnol - had been used, jurors were more inclined to hold the defendant responsible for rape, even though the effect of the drug on the woman was the same as if she were very drunk.

We live in a society where women do go out and socialise as i said and most will take reasonable precautions to keep themselves safe. They remain vulnerable. Even a few glasses of wine can have an effect. Excusing rapists first by suggesting women need to do more is a bit rich, as is suggesting they are all de facto drunken slags or liars who deserve to be taken advantage of - but that attitude seems to be out there.

Distinguishing violent assault rape from date rape and classifying the two seperately would help. Challenging attitudes in young males and making it clear date rape is a crime not a rutting right would help, eg men accepting some responsibility in their behaviour and that there are limits. Challenging public attitudes to rape generally would help since they make up the juries. Tackling the drink industry and its targeting of young people - for a broad number of reasons not only rape. Keeping anonymity all round. But ultimately where assault is concerned it rests with the law to make the impact - somehow or other the law has to change. And likely will. I agree with Ellee that 'the jury is guided on matters of law at the end of the day, and as the law stands, it does not help the alleged victim'.

7 Comments:

At Friday, 26 January, 2007, Anonymous JM said...

agree with you and ellee, coming from the right myself. good to see a blog point of view on this.

of course the law changing in a situation like rape where it is hard to prove and rests on he said/she said will mean that a change will inevitably affect men. but change it must. the resistance to that and worse the flippancy in attitide and reflex villification of women speaks volumes. remember most of these judges are crusty old farts who go along with the 'stagging rights' ethos you mention. and most guys are used to the complacency in approach to this from their own gender and grow up learning that.

as you commented somewhere below there arent enough UK women bloggers. ill link in a few more for you i read later. keep it up.

 
At Friday, 26 January, 2007, Anonymous alison said...

cheers jm. a girl in the office confided in me here she was raped a few weeks back. she is certainly no jade or jo 'couldnt give a shit'. Neither is she the kind to make out a regretted night is suddenly rape. She trusted the boys she was with and she knew one of them. some of it was aggressive, threatening and she is visibly shaken by the whole thing and baffled as to how and why they assumed they could get away with it and thought it was funny. She wont report it and has sought counselling. Isnt it wonderful to think those students are back at college. there is lot made of the changing attitudes of women in modern coiety and a lot of vicious condemnation but to assume boys havent changed also - and for the worse, is ridiculous.

 
At Friday, 26 January, 2007, Blogger jonz said...

I know it's easy for me to say, but I feel it should always be reported, even if a conviction is unlikely.

 
At Friday, 26 January, 2007, Anonymous Maggie said...

Well said Alison and jm there has to be a change of attitude. That poor girl, yes she made a mistake trusting the men she was with and assuming they were friends. Men are never friends unless gay. There is an old adage which I have said before but I say again never leave yourself vulnerable. As Jonz says report it.

 
At Friday, 26 January, 2007, Anonymous alison said...

well she'd known them a while but maybe you are right. god men have to be gay to get a good attitude towards women? yikes. but yeah if you cant trust your friends who can you trust.

 
At Sunday, 28 January, 2007, Blogger Tom Tyler said...

Maggie's assertion "Men are never friends unless gay" is interesting and worthy of debate. I'm sure some would get offended by it, but I know she didn't mean "(straight) men and women can never be just friends to any extent at all". Of course they (we) can, but I do think that once a man and woman get to a stage in their friendship when they form a real emotional closeness (although platonic up until then, and even though neither party may have "fancied" each other up until that point), then the wish to progress to a sexual aspect is likely (ok, not certain, but I think likely) to become an issue at some point. But not always initiating from the man.
I think some men are more likely to be potential rapists (or at least, more likely to want to take advantage of a woman) than others. But the trouble is, by and large, in my observations at least, those men who are possibly the most potentially dangerous, seem to be the very sort of men that certain women get "taken in by" and whom they find most attractive in a "bar" situation. It's a puzzle. Yes, a lot of men are ruled by their testosterone, and seem to have a deep-seated need to prove their sexual 'superiority'.
I am deeply concerned and frustrated about the difficulty of bringing rapists to justice. Would like to take a baseball bat to the bastards who raped your office colleague. C***s.

 
At Wednesday, 31 January, 2007, Anonymous Ellee said...

Thank you for flagging up my post on this. I wrote it quickly before dashing out, I really wanted to spend more time researching it to do it justice. It is shocking to think that only 5% of rape allegations end up in a conviction, there are so many reasons why women should not report a rape, I would ask them to consider the implications of this, that it could mean the attacker is allowed to continue his assaults on other women.

Courts have to reach decisions based on facts and evidence, if it is his word against hers, and he turns up in court dressed smartly in a suit, he will work hard to convince the jury while the victim goes through a character assassination. I would like to see screens used to conceal women when giving evidence, that might help make it less of a traumatic ordeal.

 

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