Rape and the Police

// 11 June 2009


This story from yesterday’s London Paper is shocking and horrifying. One element of it that I am still spitting about is the time line. Police were “today” (i.e. yesterday) hunting for a rapist who attacked a woman on 3rd July last year.

This guy hid in a roof above a toilet and leaped down to rape a teenage. He doesn’t sound to me like the kind of guy who should be left to roam the streets for a year before being apprehended. How many other women have been attacked while the police did nothing? And how hard would it have been for the rapist to leave the country in the space of a year thus ensuring he never faces charges for his crimes.

Only a few months ago we were horrified to discover John Worboys had been left by police to roam the streets searching for new victims while outstanding cases against him were left to fester. When are police going to start taking rape seriously?

But of course The London Paper doesn’t bother asking questions to chase up that angle (like when was the crime reported and why has it taken so long to chase up on it?), instead it focuses on the fact that Bono and Prince Harry sometimes went to the nightclub in question. Well whoopee – I wonder what they usually have to drink and what they think of the music… oh hold on didn’t someone mention rape a minute ago? So question two: When is The London Paper – and other media – going to take rape seriously?

Comments From You

Laurel Dearing // Posted 11 June 2009 at 7:08 pm

am i the only one that cringes when i read something about clothes being ripped off in the same way as when it happens in an anime of film? sounds like words used for titillation. i know they have to make it sound as dramatic as possible but i think very few writers/directors understand what it is like to be triggered about something due to real life fear, as opposed to not liking horror because of blood and guts or whatever…

Jennifer Drew // Posted 11 June 2009 at 10:42 pm

The answer to ‘when is the London Paper and other media going to take rape seriously’ is when our male-dominated society ceases to be one wherein only males are defined as human. When that happens women will finally be accorded their long overdue right of sexual autonomy and dignity.

When that happens men will no longer be able to claim ‘but she didn’t say no’ or ‘she shouldn’t have dressed that way,’ or ‘she’s drunk so obviously she didn’t say no.’

But – we are living in a male-dominated society and it is male-centered notions of what does and does not constitute rape: one being rape only happens when a deranged male ‘other’ who is not white and ‘respectable’ rapes a virginal, innocent girl (sic) or an elderly supposedly assexual woman.

But given we have men such as Gordon Ramsay and, increasingly, other male celebrities thinking it is ‘hip’ or ‘cool’ to hurl misogynistic sexualised insults at women, the day when the media takes male sexual violence against women seriously will not happen soon.

Popular culture promotes the notion that boys and men who treat women and girls with contempt and call them degrading sexualised names is not misogynistic but just harmless male fun. So obviously men committing rape (sorry should read ‘have sex with h…’) is not an issue concerning women’s right to live free from male violence.

But knife crime is a different issue because it is supposedly ‘people’ committing these crimes which conveniently overlooks the fact it is overwhelmingly males who are knifing other males – not women and most certainly not girls.

depresso // Posted 11 June 2009 at 10:49 pm

“One element of it that I am still spitting about is the time line. Police were “today” (i.e. yesterday) hunting for a rapist who attacked a woman on 3rd July last year.”

Maybe the woman he attacked reported only recently?

Kate Smurthwaite // Posted 12 June 2009 at 12:05 pm

depresso – yes I agree and that’s why I also asked in my article why The London Paper hadn’t bothered to ask when the woman reported the crime. The police have a poor track record of dealing with rape so I don’t think we can assume they behaved impeccably…

tefelome // Posted 12 June 2009 at 2:20 pm

recently i was on the bus and a group of boys came on it, acting mad and were talking loudly amongst themselves that they wanted to “fuck someone up tonight” and also, the more charming “lets do a rape, i wanna do a rape” and by the look of them,i believe that they would be capable of anything, and the fact that they were talking casually and loudly about raping someone like it was them saying that they needed milk from the supermarket is very concerning. the attitude to rape makes me sick.

Politicalguineapig // Posted 12 June 2009 at 3:48 pm

Never. Law enforcement is never on the minority’s side. This is why I keep saying that women have to learn to be violent and should start embracing vigilante justice. There’s no justice, just us.

Helen Ewing // Posted 13 June 2009 at 2:45 pm

Reports like this one distort the truths about rape and give an inaccurate image of rape not only to the general public but to the police as well.

Part Mills and Boon, part celeb magazine, the article simplifies and sensationalises the story by using language which entertains and titillates. The truth is that stranger rape is uncommon yet more likely to be reported (both in the press and to the police) because it’s easy to believe that the victim is innocent and could not have provoked the attack.

When published on a frequent basis, stories such as this one are dangerous and perpetrate the myth that rape is an easily definable formula of: 1 pure defenceless maiden + 1 dark beastly stranger = despicable crime. Most rapes go unreported because the women involved cannot confidently identify them as rape, too worried that because the rapist was known to them they in some way caused it to happen. They fear that they must have ‘asked for it’.

The press reporting of rape not only needs to change so that these women can find justice, but also so men can better understand that they must always be very, very sure of consent.

polly styrene // Posted 13 June 2009 at 7:03 pm

A small point and one that is definitely not “what about the poor rape suspects” BUT:

This man (who has been named and pictured) is clearly described as a “rapist” when in fact he’s only a suspect.

Bad reporting maybe, but I can’t help wondering if the situation would have been different if he was white. Also of course if he is charged with rape, his lawyers could use this to challenge the case against him.

Anna // Posted 13 June 2009 at 7:24 pm

I thought it said he’s a suspect – one who is also on the run, hence the need for picture and name. You’re right though, the wording could be clearer.

Have Your say

To comment, you must be registered with The F-Word. Not a member? Register. Already a member? Use the sign in button below

Sign in to the F-Word

Further Reading

Has The F-Word whet your appetite? Check out our Resources section, for listings of feminist blogs, campaigns, feminist networks in the UK, mailing lists, international and national websites and charities of interest.

Write for us!

Got something to say? Something to review? News to discuss? Well we want to hear from you! Click here for more info

  • The F-Word on Twitter
  • The F-Word on Facebook
  • Our XML Feeds