Is rape victim anonymity sufficiently well-enforced?

by Philippa Willitts // 5 November 2012, 17:38

Tags: anonymity, ched evans, rape, victims

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Victims of rape and sexual assault in the UK are legally guaranteed anonymity. No newspaper or TV station can report their name, and this is the case for the rest of their life. It is a really, really important factor in helping women come forward and report their rapes, and it must be preserved at all costs.

But what happens when people outside of traditional media break the law and release the names of rape victims online?

Today, nine people pleaded guilty to naming the victim of convicted rapist Ched Evans on Twitter. Their punishment is to each pay £624 to the victim.

Is this enough of a deterrent to make women feel like their anonymity will be safe if they want to come forward about an assault? The naming of those women, and the naming of the alleged victims of Julian Assange, lead to a culture where this right, enshrined in the law, may become less and less persuasive to women debating whether or not to report. A guest blogger here on The F-Word explained how it was one of the factors in her not reporting a violent rape.

Is a £624 fine a sufficient punishment? What punishment would you like to see, ideally? Does this sentence reassure you about the risks of being named yourself, as a victim? And is true anonymity even possible any more, in these days of Twitter and Facebook?

Let me know what you think.

[Photo of a woman with long dark hair whose face is hidden by a jumper which is zipped up to her forehead. It was taken by Frederic Poirot and is used under a Creative Commons Licence]

Comments From You

Shadow // Posted 05 November 2012 at 18:40

One wonders if the convicted men and women will pay the £624 fine to the female victim, because issuing a fine is one thing but enforcing payment is another matter.

What is needed is a 6 month mandatory prison sentence for the crime of publishing/publicly naming the identity of any female who has bravely charged a male(s) with raping her.

Male hatred/male contempt for women is endemic and the internet is commonly used by these misogynists to subject women to threats of male sexual violence, but of course there are no laws in existence whereby male promotion of women hating is a crime. However, the law is clear that naming a female victim of male sexual violence is a crime and the law must take steps to enforce this legislation.

Because we live in a male supremacist culture wherein endemic male hatred/male contempt for women is not viewed as 'male promotion of women-hating' but merely men's right to view/subject women to hatred and contempt, then addressing the issue of women's right to be accorded anonymity when they bravely charge a male(s) with rape, will be very difficult to enforce.

The internet is awash with males routinely posting women-hating messages and threatening women with male sexual violence because men continue to believe women must always be subservient and submissive to men. After all racism and homophobia is real whereas male hatred/male contempt for women is not real!

So there are a number of issues the male supremacist legal system needs to address/enforce. Whenever any male or female publicly names the identity of a female rape victim the police must prosecute the perpetrator and not ignore it unless the case comes to the attention of malestream media.

There must be a standard sentence for all convicted perpetrators, rather than leaving sentencing to discretion of magistrate. £625 is a pittance and demonstrates male supremacist system's refusal to accept that perpetrators who name identity of female victims cause immense damage to the female and ensure women and girls will not report to police a male(s) has/have raped them.

BBC news reported that a male was sentenced to three months prison for posting hate messages concerning disappearance of five year old April Jones. This means hate messages concerning a female child is supposedly far worse than perpetrators publicly naming female victims of male sexual violence.

Note too the discrepancy between women male supremacist system charges with perverting the course of justice when these women supposedly falsely accuse a male of having raped them. All the women prosecuted did not received a fine but were sentenced to prison. Clearly it is far, far worse to falsely accuse a male of rape than it is for perpetrators to publicly name a female victim of male sexual violence. This is equality according to the Male Supremacist System whereby it is men who are the ones protected and women continue to be denied justice when they have been subjected to male sexual violence.

Just because we have the internet and other social networking sites does not mean women must give up and accept promotion of male hatred/male contempt for women is something we cannot challenge. Make no mistake the reason why these men publicly named the female victim is because they wanted to punish her for daring to hold a male rapist accountable. This is male power over women in action and that is why it is essential perpetrators must be prosecuted and when convicted a six month prison sentence is mandatory. The women who imitated the men have sadly internalised the male supremacist lie that 'rape and male sexual violence against women is so rare it is like the unicorn!'


Ms. Sunlight // Posted 07 November 2012 at 18:45

It's disgusting. It's sending out a message that this is what it costs to break the law. Ultimately, that means some people will decide it's worth it. Community service would have been a much better punishment.

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