This is our truth, tell us yours
Since the verdict in the Micheal Le Vell trial everyone it seems has become mind reading experts, knowing what the jury, the accused, the girl and anyone associated with the case is thinking. Ally Fogg covers the fact only those in the court room know what happened in the court room.really well here even if I disagree with his conclusions.
Both sides, the he is a rapist and she is a liar are on the verge of hysteria as they throw accusations across the internet, and the basis of their beliefs seems to be that rape or rape accusations are so different from any other experiences that we need special rules to deal with them.
I have been raped, it is one of the many events which has shaped me, made me who I am today. There seems to be a certain section of feminism that believes rape so traumatizes every woman that they can never recover from it. That being raped, is quite literally worse than being murdered. This leads to the belief that the entire court system must be over hauled in order to center it upon those who have been raped. Each individual experiences, and reacts to rape in their own way, none more correct than another, but the question that never seems to be asked is why is reporting so traumatic?
I believe that it is the stigma that still exists around being a victim of rape. We live in a culture that assumes among other things that if a woman has been drinking; or is out late; or is a sex worker; that she in some way caused her rape, or that it wasn’t even rape at all. We still cling to the purity myth that women who have been raped have in some way been sullied. This goes back to the crime of rape as being seen as against her male guardians (Father or Husband) instead of against her. Rape was an assault on a woman’s marriage value not her body.
When someone reports an assault or a mugging judgments are not made about their behavior, their moral character, their past history. When someone reports a rape their entire life is examined to determine whether they are a “good” victim. This outrage wont be changed by making the courts agree with the outdated idea that a woman can be “ruined” via rape though. The stigma may in fact be reinforced as the state determines that rape is so traumatizing that anyone who copes may be called into doubt. It is already the case that some women doubt whether they were raped because their life has not been destroyed.
The odd thing is that the MRAs who are crying that Le Vells life has been ruined actually seem to agree with those who see rape as the worst thing that can happen to any women ever. I honestly heard someone on the radio this evening saying being accused of rape was worse than being accused of murder, and so defendants should have anonymity. These are two sides of the same coin, even if they seem so far apart, rape as some alien act that exists outside society and understanding.
This attitude allows the rape apologists to decide they can have never raped anyone, that sex with someone drunk, or asleep, or who they are married too, or who carries on dating them afterwards isn’t really rape. After all rape is something so terrible even to be accused of it ruins a mans life forever, rape is something other men do.
The current legal system isn’t perfect, far from it, however the calls from both sides for change ignore the real problems. We have a system that is based on harm to the crown, and the state seeking redress. We have a system that determines punishment in terms of harm done to the state, whatever lip service we pay via victim impact statements. Calls for piecemeal reform just around rape will not change that, or the stigma, or the low rates of reporting. Giving anonymity to defendants will simply emphasise the idea that accusations are somehow different to someone saying they have been mugged or robbed. It is fuel to the fire of those who claim false rape allegations are rife.
We need reform of our legal system, we need a society that doesn’t shame rape victims, we need many things, what we do not need is people using the acquittal of a man to beat their own political drum. whichever side they are on.