Tag Archives: rape

The NHS and the blaming of rape victims

 

This poster was produced in 2006 and serves as one of many examples of institutionalized forms of ‘victim blaming’.

victim blaming

I was slightly horrified to see this poster re-circulating on social media this morning. It is yet another example of ‘victim blaming’ – the suggestion that a victim of rape was somehow at fault because of her behaviour. 

This poster becomes that bit more shocking when you spot that it is produced, published and distributed by our own government.

‘Victim blaming’ is one of those myths that I spend so much of my time trying to counter. Simply, a rape is never the victims fault – the blame always ultimately rests with those who put their penis inside someone without that other persons consent. 

Simple.

Or, in the words of the NHS (in a separate campaign to the ‘Know your limits’ campaign):

“If you have been sexually assaulted, remember that it wasn’t your fault. It doesn’t matter what you were wearing, where you were or whether you had been drinking. A sexual assault is always the fault of the perpetrator.”

If the NHS did want to draw some connections between alcohol consumption and sexual assault though without slipping down this dangerous road of victim blaming, they could have made the exact same poster with the words:

“approximately one-half of all sexual assaults are committed by men who have been drinking alcohol.”

One study on alcohol and sexual assault concluded it’s literature review saying:

“Depending on the sample studied and the measures used, the estimates for alcohol use among perpetrators have ranged from 34 to 74 percent”. 

The same study estimates that at least 20 percent of American men report having perpetrated sexual assault and 5 percent report having committed rape. The obvious conclusion to this is that 10% of American men have committed sexual assault after they have been drinking.

This issue is a serious one that involves facing up to taboos as well as a very well funded drinks industry. Our safety, not just of girls, but all of us depends on tackling this. I don’t think it is hyperbole to say we are in midst of an unspoken epidemic.

Sadly this contribution from the NHS to the debate adds little but does reinforce an incredibly negative persistent perception that the victim is somehow to blame for being raped.

 

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BBC asks: “Should homosexuals face execution?”…Hynd’s Blog asks: “Is the BBC a sociopath?”

Last week I highlighted BBC Radio Bristol’s inappropriate question, “Is a victim of rape ever to blame for being attacked?

By forming this into a question, there is a tacit suggestion that there is a credible debate to be had; that maybe a man forcing his penis into a women against her will could be her fault.

It can’t.

I thought this was shocking and called for BBC Radio Bristol to remove the question mark and to clarify their position.

All I got was silence.

Apparently though the BBC has a bit of history. In the comments section for this article I was directed to this ‘BBC Debate’ that opens by asking:

“Should homosexuals face execution?”

To try and justify the question they added:

“Yes, we accept it is a stark and disturbing question. But this is the reality behind an Anti-Homosexuality Bill being debated by the Ugandan parliament”

The article then factually covers the bill before asking:

“Has Uganda gone too far?”

Again, by forming questions around these repulsive suggestions the beeb is offering a tacit suggestion that there is a credible argument to be made for the execution of homosexuals and that no, this wouldn’t be seen as ‘going too far’.

What next for beeb and their obsessive compulsion to make everything into an interactive question? ”Is it acceptable to beat a man to death with his own shoes if he looks at you strangely?”…

If a person asked any of these questions they would be treated as a sociopath. Should we judge the BBC with any different standards?

If you want you can make a complaint to the BBC, you can do it here.

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Peace and palliative care in the DRC

This article was first published on the Africa edition of ehospice

Dr Paul Pili Pili is a representative of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ministry of Health. But like many people from the DRC, he has been affected by the war, knows people who have died and more than anything, wishes for peace and stability for his country. Steve Hynd from the African Palliative Care Association met up him to find out more.

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On Loïc Rémy and how some football fans contribute to the UK’s rape culture

My heart sank today when I read that the QPR striker, Loïc Rémy has been arrested on suspicion of rape.

It sank because once again we were reminded of the rape endemic that is found in the UK. This story centers around three guys and one girl, but reminds me of the 85,000 women who are raped in the UK every year.

My heart sank because somewhere a girl has gone to the police to report a rape but we know from experience, she will face an uphill battle to bring about a prosecution. We know that even though 85,000 (or higher) women are raped each year in the UK. Only just over a 1000 men are convicted of rape – even though 90% of rape victims know the identity of their attacker.

My heart sank though because I knew people would also forget the word ‘accused’ and assume that Rémy was guilty. Although it is, statistically speaking, a small issue compared to rape, false accusations of rape have the potential to ruin a man’s life. With the 24/7 premiership media spotlight shining on Rémy, this potential is only amplified.

My heart sunk though, because I knew any subtlety in this story would fly from the window as soon as people graced their keyboards with the presence of their fingers.

Sure enough, ‘Jack Miller 1993’ decided to impart his wisdom on the matter saying:

And he was not alone in gracing social media with such enlightened thoughts. This next selection of tweets were pulled at random from a torrent of rancid inappropriate comments that have been tweeted this afternoon.

Thousands of tweets later, all we know is that another rape has been reported in Britain and that many football fans on twitter are incapable of associating it with their own behavior.

Laura Baites writing in the Independent described the term ‘rape culture’ saying:

“I am not referring to isolated incidents, but to a widespread trend towards articles, websites and events that sexualise, objectify and dehumanise female students and women in general. I am talking about entire websites where across hundreds of articles about women not a single female name appears; they are replaced with “wenches”, “hoes”, “clunge”, “skank”, “sloppy seconds”, “pussy”, “tramp”, “chick”, “bird”, “milf”, “slut” and “gash”. They are part of a growing culture in which the sexual targeting of female students as “prey” is actively encouraged, even when it verges on rape and sexual assault. It is an atmosphere in which victims are silenced and perpetrators encouraged to see crimes as merely ‘banter’ – just part of ‘being a lad’.”

Whether or not Jack Miller realizes it, he is, by tweeting such bile with such rancid sentiment and terminology as ‘slag’, only further contributing to the rape culture in the UK.

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A harrowing and articulate response to rape by Annie Moran

“Nothing could have prepared me for their version of events being presented in such a way, attacking me, blaming me, making me doubt myself, making me physically quake at the knees. Nothing could have prepared me for that last little bit of myself that I had managed to hold on to through all of this, that bit that knew why I was fighting, that bit that believed in myself, being broken into such tiny pieces I’m still not sure it will, if it can, ever be repaired”

These are the words of Annie Moran. Annie was raped and has now written up her account of the court case. It is a powerful and moving account that shows the challenges that she, and thousands of other women go through.

I strongly urge you to read her powerful, moving and tragically brave account.

I urge you to read it though bearing in mind that 85,000 women are raped every year in the UK. Read it bearing in mind that 400,000 women are sexually assaulted every year in the UK. Read it acknowledging her unique experience but without losing sight of depressing normality of her experience.

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Roger Helmer describes a hypothetical rape as such: “the victim surely shares a part of the responsibility, if only for establishing reasonable expectations in her boyfriend’s mind”

Roger “I think a girl can be responsible for being raped” Helmer

Tories are on the back foot on this subject. I wrote a blog yesterday essentially defending what Ken Clarke said (although highlighting its lack of clarity). Then, out of no-where (well Brussels) Roger Helmer wades in with some comments that reinforce every negative idea about rape!

While I think it is right and proper that Ken Clarke still has a job, I honestly cannot see how this man who denies the existence of homophobia, climate change and child poverty within traveller communities still has a job. This latest round of comments highlight that his views are not only out-dated but also worryingly out of touch with reality.  To suggest that a girl is in part responsible for being raped is totally and utterly unacceptable.  On this one I stand side by side with Caroline Flint who described his comments as “outrageous”.

It is equally worrying that one MEP within the ECR group can be thrown out for so little, and yet another stay in the group after making such consistently disgusting comments.

The sad truth of the matter is that Mr Cameron knows he cannot stand up and be counted on this issue because Roger Helmer remains a favourite of his far right backbenchers. If the PM is going to launch an attack, he feels as though it has to be on something more serious than this. Thus, in a nutshell this is what’s wrong with the modern Conservative Party. Mr Cameron is still pandering to the far right extremists’ and so will tolerate what you and I find intolerable.

I suggest the Prime Minister goes away and read Mr Helmer’s comments and sets an example to show that he too finds Roger Helmer’s views deplorable.

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Ken Clarke might have been clumsy with his words but Labour’s top guns are being malicious with theirs

Ken Clarke

When Ken Clarke started talking about rape on radio 5 live last week there was quite rightly uproar. Ken Clarke failed to effectively get across what he wanted to say. I think (assume) what he was trying to saying was that when someone has sex with an under 13 year old (not 15 like Ken said) it is legally deemed rape although it might well have been consenting. The legal logic goes that it has to be rape because she/he could not have given their consent because of their age.

It was telling that on BBC Question Time last Thursday after the whole debacle took place, Ken was greeted (by panelists and audience) with a general level of support.  Even Jack Straw stopped short of really attacking him (a Labour politician with principles…or just on that understands the debate?)  This is because, at the crux of what Ken was saying, that some legal definitions of rape hold more severe penalties than others, he was right.  Not all legal definitions of rape are violent, indeed as pointed out above; some rape can hold both partners consent.  The varying length and severity of punishment reflecting this is right.

Labour has a record of action on this issue, which if they were campaigning positively, they would be working to highlight. They introduced the Sexual Offences Act 2003 which broadened the definition of consent to protect those unable to consent (such someone unconscious or drunk).  However, this latest round of fire in the war of words has come with Harriet Harman writing a patronising gender centric letter to Mr Clarke in the Guardian, Ed Miliband calling for his dismissal at Prime Ministers Questions and the Labour media machine going into overdrive.  Let’s be very clear, Labour are not doing this because they think what Ken Clarke was saying was wrong, but because it is politically useful. They have gone on a crass public relations spree (missing the key point about reduced sentences to save money).

As Sunny Hundal pointed out, the Tories have two big problems facing them. One is a law and order image problem, and the second is that women disproportionately do not vote Tory. Labour can see that by attacking Ken they are winning on both fronts.

For as long as Ken is in his job, the Tories cannot appear “tough on crime”. They are facing police protests over salary freezes whilst talking more about “helping those in prisons” (quite rightly). If Labour keeps attacking, Cameron cannot fire Clarke because that would be an obvious win for Labour. It does however keep the law and order problem on the front pages and makes the Tories look divided and weakened.  Cameron is in a no win situation – keep Ken and look weak or sack Ken and look weak.

At the same time, it also means that Labour can play on crass gender stereotypes related to rape and clean up the female vote! Labour can look compassionate whilst attacking a Justice secretary which is doing and saying roughly the right things.

Labour knows, I know and most importantly Ken Clarke knows he did not mean to say that some rape was more or less “serious”.  When Ken Clarke (the former lawyer) talks of rape, he is using legal definitions, not publically understood definitions of the term.

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