1/25/2008

The untold truth

I see that the BBC are suggesting that there has been a 50% increase in the number of rapes in the 6 counties over the past six years.

I wonder if that is the number of rapes or the number of rapes reported.

The vast majority of people who are raped do not report it and of those that do there is a conviction rate of only about 5%.

That's hardly going to persuade a rape victim to come forward and receive a secondary rape experience in the courtroom.

I normally have no time for the feminist movement in general, even though I have common cause with a lot of their aims, as I find them a very divisive force.

When it comes to the issue of rape I agree with them completely.

While I was at University I spent a lot of time researching this area of the law as Criminal law is an area that I intend to specialise in.

It wasn't until I took a Gender law class in third year that I really began to understand the deeper issues and forces at work in this area of criminal law.

Rape has to be once of the most destructive and soul destroying things that can be done to another person. I say person instead of woman because there are a large number of men who are raped even if in the vast majority of cases it is women who are raped.

When I was doing my LPC in London last year I did a fair bit of pro-bono work for a rape crisis centre. It was in many ways the hardest and yet most rewarding experience of my life thus far.

I remember these women relaying some of the most harrowing stories and that pain which they felt was a constant.

Most of those who were raped and who were either married or had a partner ended up finishing their relationship because they couldn't stand the touch of another man on their skin as it brought the whole experience flooding back.

That is one of the major drawbacks of the new Sexual Offences Act 2003, a supposedly improved piece of legislation.

The rape act itself is defined as the intentional penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth of another person with a penis. This fails to take into account what women feel is sexually violating, it centres on the penis and it is what men think woman should find violating.

This new Act does go some way further than the old law which only had vaginal penetration as rape but it is still a denial of agency. It fails to recognise that what men find sexually pleasing is not the same for women and so what men find violating is not necessarily what women find violating.

Until rape victims take ownership of the law and take ownership of the process then their right to bodily autonomy will never be realised and the phallocentric society will continue to dominate the horizon as it has always done.

No comments: