Guest Post: No, Katie Price is not obliged to name her rapist.
Guest Blogger // 18 September 2009
Reader Anji Capes responds to Abby’s post on Katie Price.
Katie Price (the former glamour model more commonly known as Jordan) has stated that she is one of the estimated one in four women in this country who has been a victim of rape. She spoke publicly of it for the first time earlier this month in OK! magazine but has taken the decision not to name her rapist. I was disappointed this morning when an article appeared on The F Word by Abby O’Reilly covering Price’s decision. O’Reilly argues that Price ought to name her rapist publicly, and states that the decision not to do so is “downright irresponsible”.
I believe it is just plain wrong to tell a rape victim what she ‘should’ do about her rape, to dictate to her how she ‘should’ be dealing with it. I am surprised that people who consider themselves feminists are implying that a victim of sexual assault owes it to the world to publicly name her attacker or to report the attack to the police. Apparently because she is a celebrity and someone who is in the public eye, she has an obligation to do what we want her to. What happened to supporting victims and/or survivors by giving them what they need?
Instead of berating someone for not doing what we consider to be the ‘right’ thing we should be concentrating on changing society and the legal avenues which make it so difficult for rape victims to name their rapists and pursue criminal charges. Of course all women should be able to report rape to the police, and to reveal their attackers. In a society which treated rape with the seriousness it deserves, I don’t doubt that many, many more women would. But not all of them – and regardless of their relative anonymity or celebrity status, the wishes and decisions of those who choose not to should be respected as the right decisions for them.
We know that only 6% of rapes which are reported manage to get convictions. Is it so surprising then, that a rape victim – any rape victim – would choose to be one of the 95% of rape victims who do not report the crime to the police? Especially considering several years have passed since Price’s rape happened, the chances of being taken seriously and there being evidence enough to gain a conviction are so small as to be negligible. Alongside that is the fact that going to trial would mean reliving an extremely upsetting experience.
Price knows what (most of) the world thinks of her; most of the news articles I’ve read on this talk of her rape in such terms that make it clear they do not believe her, that this is some sort of publicity stunt. She is already seen in a poor light by the majority of major media and the general public which hangs on its every word. What would she achieve by publicly naming her attacker?
Naming him would lead to a trial in which she would have to relive her rape, a trial which as we already know she is unlikely to ‘win’. And when she lost, the whole nation would then jump around saying “I told you so” and brand her a liar – imagine the effect that will have on her and her family. Not to mention, it would be just another reinforcement of that tired old trope that “women always lie about rape” (actually false rape allegations are statistically no more common than false allegations of any other crime). It must have been bloody hard for Price to talk about her rape in public, and she should be applauded for her bravery.
O’Reilly’s piece implies that as a public figure, Price has some sort of duty to become a figurehead for rape survivors, to show women who have been raped how it should be done. I don’t think this is fair. All women who have survived rape should be supported in dealing with their experience in whatever way they feel to be most appropriate for them, with no conditions or quid pro quos, and so should Katie Price. None of us have the right to tell her what she ‘should’ be doing, and I think it’s time we gave the support she needs at this difficult time without resorting to making declarations about what she ‘should’ do.