Sexual Violence in the news
Louise Livesey // 2 July 2008
Further to this Jill Saward has written this piece on why she’s standing for the by-election. Needless to say, it being a Comment is Free piece so far she’s been described as “pathetic” (robertdaniel), told to “grow up” (GoingGoingGordon), that her writing is “spurious” (RoadRiverandRail), that women reporting rape are all liars (comment detailed but quoted in another one), that women shouldn’t make this a gender/feminist issue (tangerinedream), that talking about rape is “sneaky” (Kvasnik) and that her campaign is “absolute bollocks” (funwithwhips). Lovely.
Meanwhile, cashing in on women’s fears of violence, Fiona Bruce and Jacqui Hames from Crimewatch have written another “women it’s all you fault” book. Although Bruce and Hames deny wanting to make women feel more vulnerable their strategy is:
neither woman wants to increase the general level of fear in the female population. Savvy! tries to reassure as well as warn, pointing out that the stuff of nightmares – the sex attacker lurking in the shadows near the lonely path or the burglar-attacker breaking in at night – will remain just that for the vast majority of women.
They fail to mention that for women who are raped the shadow-lurking or burgling rapist is a figment of the imagination – because most women are raped by a person or persons they know. So why do I call this women-blaming, take this little snippet:
“Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol will raise you to the top of the potential victim stakes,” says Hames. “You’re not in full control; your awareness is impaired; you are vulnerable – and you look it.”
Now I am all for everyone, woman, man and child, taking sensible and reasonable precautions with their safety, but to talk of their being “victim stakes” which makes it a matter of “odds” and “calculations” is, frankly, rather obscene to my mind. But there is no discussion of what constitutes excessive – a man preparing to rape knows that a woman who has ingested any alcohol will be subject to quizzing from the Police about her capacity to consent and memory of doing so (I speak from experience after being clobbered by a brick and sexually assaulted – I was asked whether the two glasses of wine I’d had impaired my memory (no that was the concussion) and whether I might have consent).
In the meantime, and to remind ourselves that sexual violence is just a UK concern, there is a biographical piece over here on Medicine Sans Frontiers nurses working with sexual violence survivors in Liberia.
Singer says the cases of an adult male raping a young girl are the majority of cases there. “Approximately 87% of our patients are under the age of 19 — 9% are under 5 years of age,” she says. “Eighty-five percent of the alleged perpetrators are someone who is known to the victim. It is also notable that when the age of the perpetrator is known, 29% are also under the age of 18.”