The Personal is Still Political

// 3 February 2006

The BBC is carrying a report of a rape trial taking place in Scotland in which a drunk man attempted to rape and threatened to kill a woman on her way home. He has pleaded guilty to attempted rape (saying, in his defence, "I just wanted to see her naked").

Now I\x92m thinking that, amongst the many personally distressing facts in this case, the most societally depressing fact is that a nearby resident saw this man dragging a woman towards a hedge, whilst she was screaming, but thought it was a row between a couple and went back to bed. What? WHAT? So it\x92s okay to drag screaming people into a hedge as long as they\x92re your girlfriend??

Attitudes like this are why domestic violence remains as prevalent as it is \x96 as a society, we might not like violence within relationships but we fundamentally believe it not our business to interfere. We\x92re still a nation of curtain twitchers.

Due in no small part to continued pressure from the likes of Harriet Harman, legislation and police powers have caught up with the notion that we should be forcibly intervening in a situation, rather than waiting for women to step forward as victims (see here for discussion of the latest police campaign) but until public opinion catches up with them it\x92s hard to see how they can make a meaningful impact on the problem.

The personal is political, people \x96 they should have taught us that in the seventies \x85

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