This is our truth, tell us yours
It’s not been a good week for those, like us, who believe that attacking the victims is the first resort and most powerful weapon of those who don’t give a fig for informed consent.
The Leon Brittan story is all over the press, and is the subject of much political infighting, with Conservatives using the story to attack Tom Watson for the crime of reporting to the police information he had received. In the process the victim has been marginalized.
Here’s the reality. According to most papers, Leon Brittan was cleared by police of the accusation that he had raped a nineteen year old student. He wasn’t. The police decided they didn’t have enough evidence to go to the CPS with. Neither did they have enough evidence, apparently, to prosecute his accuser for making a false report. This rather uncomfortable fact is elided in the political knockabout. We covered a lot of this sort of ground in this blog about the Leanne Black case, and the silence from the police about why they didn’t submit a file to the CPS is not going to clarify anything.
If you’re interested in the whole debate about accusations of rape you could do a lot worse than read this blog by Jem, and all the comments below the line. It’s clear to me that the most likely narrative about the specific rape accusation against Brittan is that in the absence of corroboration the police did not have enough faith in the victim beng able to persuade a jury – which is a long way from Leon Brittan being cleared.
In the week that the Ched Evans case was referred back to the Court of Appeal so that Evans can continue to attack the credibility of the victim, which has been his principal line of defence, it leads to an uneasy feeling, a sense that there is a movement away from believing the victims, back to the idea that victims are not trustworthy. Jem’s post on the topic of CSA provoked this response from one commenter I’m sorry but some survivors do bear some responsibility in this mess. They chose to believe and promote the ‘experiences’ of people who have a weak grasp on reality. I covered a lot of this ground here; our entire justice system is set up in a way that reduces victims to bit part players in a drama that uses their stories as narrative lubricant.
There is no doubt that the feverish way in which all the media have handled these stories is part oft he problem. Michael White does a good job of reminding us that many of Tom Watson’s accusers were happy to run with the pack when the hunt began. Every story must be tested, every victim heard, but the mainstream media is not the place for that to happen. The mainstream media has always been the place where the overwhelming narratives of the rape apologists were formed and shaped, where power has been deployed to silence the weak. Jimmy Saville could not have prospered for so long without the tacit support of the media, and the narrative that anyone who made accusations against him was clearly mad, bad or dangerous. In such a way more victms will be silenced, for fear that they will be the next ones to experience trial by media for the crime of telling their story.