Regressive attitudes towards rape victims

Shocking statistics on some residual attitudes towards victims of rape.

  • Jo

    Mick I wouldnt have thought residual was appropriate descriptor given the sheer scale of this unthinking attitude to the crime?

    Already I have noted the “oh yes its appalling but you cant believe statistics” attitude, but that in itself is part of an attitude to this crime against women far more widespread than the utterly appalling SCALE of “what does she expect…” type of attitude. One wonder what has to be done to reduce such attitudes to the margins?

  • Occasional Commentator

    From the article: The poll, carried out for Amnesty by ICM, revealed the vast majority of British people have no idea how many women a year are raped in the UK.

    I don’t see how this is relevant. Most people don’t know statistics for things like murder, lung cancer deaths, hate crime, the Holocaust, or any of the countless issues we’re supposed to know all about. Is the Scotsman suggesting that those who don’t know the stats are as bad as those who trivialise rape?

  • Occasional Commentator

    From the article: “… many people will lay the blame for being raped at the feet of women themselves, and the government must … counteract this sexist ‘blame culture’,”

    She’s the sexist. Surely rape of any kind regardless of age, gender or homo/hetero-sexuality is wrong?

    Also, ” ‘dreadfully low’ conviction rates”

    What’s wrong with low conviction rates? Did it ever cross her mind that the accusations could be false? If men are so evil as to be capable of rape, then just as surely there are lots of women capable of making false accusations.

    This is a very serious issue, and hysterical interventions by her (and me!) won’t help anybody. She should concentrate on making the point that rape is always a serious crime, and stop calling for kangaroo courts.

    On a fine point of logic, suggesting that certain choices of clothes increase the chances of being raped is not the same thing as condoning rape. One could be as disgusted and angry as her, and still make such a suggestion. The survey should just have asked “Is is OK to rape a flirty person?”. For example, we all know that parking a car in certain places is asking for trouble from car thieves, but that doens’t mean that car crime is legal in those areas!

  • The findings in the report are indeed,shocking. There is never an excuse for rape. A man must control himself. So I don’t buy into this crap, that just because a woman is scantily clad, or pissed she deserves violation. It’s up to blokes to raise the level of their game if they want to be casanova’s; and if you haven’t got the wit or charm to pull, then forget it. Try another day!
    work on yourself, and be cool.

  • Jo

    OC
    One can only assume, and I dont believe this to be a sexist comment, that if a man was raped every 40 minutes, that there would not be a casual attitude across towards this crime and that people would be a good bit more aware of it than they are at the moment.

    My own website (quick plug!) carried some research a while back which showed, that when presented with a scenario where a man forced a woman to have sex with him, 2/3 of those asked thought that they would have done the same thing.

  • Baluba

    The bottom line of all of this is that no matter what a woman is wearing, no matter how she has acted, flirtatiously or otherwise, no matter how many men she is reported to have slept with; if she says ‘No’ to you and you proceed, you have raped that woman.

    Men still have a stinking attitude to women and this needs to be further highlighted in all facets of society. The present generation of teenage girls have been completely disempowered again in contrast to their mothers’ or even big sisters’ generations.

    This is the most horrible manifestation of what is in general poor attitudes towards women and the prevalent lack of gender equality.

    The issue of male rape is different. Those men have a hard time too certainly, (a guy I know hung himself because he couldn’t deal with it and his treament by other men because of it) but the scale and frequency is different. It can hardly be compared to the proiblem of male against female rape.

  • Jo

    Baluba

    I do agree with you. I believe the current female teenage generation has been subjected to the most intensely sexualisation and as a result, they have been conditioned to accept the predatory sexual attention of men more than previous more self-aware generations.

    I either heard this morning in connection with this news story or else recently that a high proportion of young women EXPECT to be raped in the coming months. That shows how this horrific crime has permeated into our society fabric so that there is an expectation of violation and a corresponding powerlessness.

  • Henry94

    ,i>The bottom line of all of this is that no matter what a woman is wearing, no matter how she has acted, flirtatiously or otherwise, no matter how many men she is reported to have slept with; if she says ‘No’ to you and you proceed, you have raped that woman.

    I don’t think that is in dispute. I would like to see the questions asked by this survey because I think the vast majority of people can put the blame where it belongs while at the same time they would advise against reckless and careless behaviour.

    A survey with an agenda could easily confuse the two and I wonder if that’s what happened here.

    As a general point I think reports on any survey should publish the questions asked. We are being offered conclusion without being shown what they are based on.

  • George

    “Ireland regrettably continues to be a country where initial consent to sexual relations is understood to imply continued consent. To understand rape, it must be understood that consent for sex is something that is continually renegotiated and can never be taken as a given.”

    Rape Crisis Network Ireland director, Fiona Neary.

    She made the comment after a man from Sligo was found guilty of marital rape for a second time since 2002.

    He was sentenced to six years but in 2004, the Court of Criminal Appeal quashed the conviction and ordered a retrial.

    I fear there are a lot of men who would disagree with the concept of continual renegotiation, which leads to ambivalent attitudes.

  • Henry,

    The full survey, with the questions asked, is available at:

    http://www.icmresearch.co.uk/reviews/2005/Amnesty International – Sexual abuse/Amnesty International – Sexual Abuse.asp

  • I have to agree with OC on some of the points there. If a girl is lying half unconscious through getting herself so drunk she can’t move, she has contributed to the situation. That is NOT anywhere near the same as saying she deserved it or was asking for it, but there was something she could have done (or not done) to prevent it.

    The government are running ads telling us how we can’t leave our phone unattended at a table while we go to the loo or stand outside the pub because we’re advertising it to theives. The same is true of this. Obviously the crime is inifinitely more serious and more damaging, but the principle is the same. It only makes sense to take precautions (and that shouldn’t excuse the perpetrator at all!).

    That said, I’m absolutely shocked and disgusted to read that at least 5% think the woman is “totally responsible” in all those situations. Can a victim ever be totally responsible?

  • Correction:
    or stand outside the pub talking on it “all lit up like a Christmas tree” because

  • Baluba

    ‘I have to agree with OC on some of the points there. If a girl is lying half unconscious through getting herself so drunk she can’t move, she has contributed to the situation. That is NOT anywhere near the same as saying she deserved it or was asking for it, but there was something she could have done (or not done) to prevent it.’

    That’s sad. I hope it never happens to anyone belonging to you.

  • joc

    I think the analogy of car theft is quite good.

    The thieves are 100% responsible for the theft, but it is plain stupid to leave your car around open/keys in the lock etc.

    I don’t think this is being sexist, just realistic when there are so many predatory males around.

  • Rape is an atrocious crime that has far reaching effects upon the victim. Date rape is the hardest to convict i assume and i’m sure there is a minority who cry rape but the overwhelming majority don’t. Individual women have to get smarter and juries have to get smarter in convicting the rapists.
    Gang-rape is a crime that should be punishable with 25yrs imprisonment for all perpetrators,such is the shocking brutality and dis-respect inflicted upon the victims.

  • Baluba I’m sorry if it sounds harsh and unsympathetic, I genuinely think it’s an atrocious and inexcusable crime and would never countenance going so far as to “blame” the victim. I just think it’s irresponsible to the point of nearly being dangerous to assume that one shouldn’t take reasonable precautions (like avoiding bad areas or walking home alone where possible).

    If I can draw on my own experience as an example, I once had to go and pick up a friend who was sitting at Shaftsbury Square on her own at about 1 AM – just sitting there, quite ‘tired and emotional’. Now it wouldn’t have been her fault if something had happened, but given the stories I’ve heard of people getting attacked there, that was a bloody stupid thing to do, was it not?

    I realise it’s probably easier to say that because nothing happened, but it does strike me that if I had carried out the research I’d be quicker to point out the 5-8% who think that a woman can be ‘totally responsible’ for being raped. THAT is sad.

  • idunnomeself

    Without denying how awful rape is, I am afraid that the thing that annoyed me about this report was the shameless hysteria that a charity is using to whip up support for its own agenda.

    For some time now these tactics have been turning me off causes that I would naturally have a lot of sympathy for. The NSPCC’s Fullstop campaign is another one.

    This survey is partial and heavily skewed.

    It says that they have decided rape is widespread and unreported
    Then it revels that others don’t agree with them
    Then it announces that therefore those people are wrong, possibly even potential rapists, and that ‘something must be done’ to make everyone else think what they do.
    And ends up with a call for more money for the types of organisations that ran the survey.

    The cynic in me feels that they are doing a further violence to rape victoms by using their suffering as a cheap way to get more funding..

    Am I the only one who is getting tired of these blatant attempts to manipulate my emotions (and wallet) by organisations who, under normal circumstances, I would have a great deal of sympathy with?

  • Colm

    Just to ask a very different question here which is not to undermine the seriousness of the topic but is it appropriate for Amnesty International to be carrying out surveys of this kind. I thought that organisation was specifically dedicated to campaigning against the imprisonment of non-violent political activists.

  • SlugFest

    I think most of you (with the exception of Baluba, bless your kind and compassionate soul) are missing the point of rape as well as why the perpetrators act out in such a way. Rape is a crime of power; the sexual aspect of the crime comes into play because that is the best way to weaken another human being.

    The criminal definition of ‘date rape’, at least in America, is when the victim knows the assailant — in other words, the two (when it is only two people involved, that is) people know each other — they could be in the same class, they may bump into each other in the supermarket, etc … they need not be on an actual ‘date’.

    As for the scantily-clad justification in the article as well as in the above posts, that’s just plain crap, and it speaks volumes as to how far we, the human race, have to go in terms of basic human rights. I ask you: if i noticed a drunk, hot man in a pub who was dressed in such a way that i noticed his pecs, calfs, etc., would i in any way be able to justify following him home that night and forcefully taking him? I hear a resounding ‘no’, do i not? Then let me ask you this: if i heard the next morning that that same hot, tone man was raped in the alleyway of the pub by another woman who decided to ‘go for it’ because she just couldn’t handle her urges, is it then okay for me to mutter to myself that he was asking for it?

    The problem is that the majority of men cannot imagine being forcefully taken in a sexual manner. Years ago i was an advocate for rape victims. We were trained with policemen … they listened as attentively as they could (read: half-assed) until the 3rd or 4th week, when the trainers showed us the rape scene in the movie Deliverance. From then on in, every policeman paid a whole lot more attention, believe me.

    If you lads haven’t made your plans for this weekend, may i suggest that, instead of ogling scantily-clad women in your local pub, why not instead rent the movie Deliverance? Imagine yourself as Ned Beatty’s character and wonder if any action on your part could ever, ever justify such a personal violation.

  • Jo

    Beano
    We all may do bloody stupid things, but the guy who rapes when we are doing those stupid things is unequivocally guilty of a crime.
    If wearing a certain type of clothing is not provocative of a rape, then neither is sitting down in a opublic place at 1am in the morning.

    The rape is still a rape at 1am, the sentence should be as long as a rape committed in broad daylight, whether or not the victim is drunk or sober. End of story.

    Colm Amnesty has an interest in rape as rape is a violent activity increasingly used in war-type situations. It concerns the violation of a basic human right, something not normally the concern of those with whom you associate in another place. The fact is that as a weapon of choice, it is directed against women and women right acorss the globe – I welcome a human rights organisation recognising that. There is an inclination in our society to think that the rape of thousands of women in former Yugoslavia was not as great a crime as others committed there. This is wrong. Those rapes were war crimes as much as mistreatment or mass murder.

  • Baulba
    “It can hardly be compared to the proiblem of male against female rape.”

    Are you saying rape of a female is somehow worse than the rape of a man?? Sorry, but I just don’t agree. It is equally as bad, in the case of a man it would be as hard if not even harder for him to come forward and admit it. And what if he was raped by another man (there was a sexual assault on a man yesterday in Tralee, he was attacked by 2 other men)?

  • Occassional Commentator

    Jo,
    Are you saying that most of the rapes that were the subject of the article, and the subject of this thread, were political?

    Slugfest,
    You’ve just made the very serious and completely baseless accusation that many posters on this thread are trivialising rape. I don’t care for your experience as an advocate if you simply use it as an excuse to peddle lies.

  • SlugFest

    OC,

    “For example, we all know that parking a car in certain places is asking for trouble from car thieves, but that doens’t mean that car crime is legal in those areas!”

    … Indeed. How silly of me to suggest that your posts were trivializing rape. Please accept my humblest apologies.

  • There has been research asking women if they expected to be raped in x time frame (can’t quite remember the time frame but it was less than a year ) and there was an alarmingly high percentage of women who said that they had this expectation (again can’t remember the % just that it was shockingly high). The only way I have of explaining this is that a very significant number of those women expected to be raped by their significant others.

  • Jocky

    I think some folk are unfairly jumping on Beano and OC and damming them with words they didn’t say.

    Jo I dont think Beano was saying it was less of a crime, just that as with all crimes they are ways to reduce the risks of becoming a victim, considering how serious rape is and how hard it is to get a conviction isn’t the best way forward prevention? What’s wrong with common sense advice to reduce the risk of being raped?

    If less women get raped because more women dont get absolutely blotto on a night out surely that’s a good thing. (And before anyone jumps on me Im not saying that all women who are raped were blotto, but without the stastics at hand I would guess that being drunk is a big risk factor especially considering the binge drink culuture we have) Obviously this wont solve the problem entirely but as I said it’s about practical measures so less women get raped, we’re not living in some utopia where all men are angels.

    Anyone else got any ideas or is it a case of seeing who can say “ohh isnt it terrible” the loudest?

  • I think that there is a place for both messages and indeed essential that they are expressed together, i.e. the responsibility/guilt for rape belongs totally and absolutley with the rapist and at the same time we should consider what the risk factors might be and how best to minimise the risk.

  • Thanks Jocky, and you’re just right. In fact more than damning me for something I haven’t said, I think I’m being attacked for something I’ve already gone against.

    “Beano
    We all may do bloody stupid things, but the guy who rapes when we are doing those stupid things is unequivocally guilty of a crime.”

    I’m sorry Jo, obviously my “I genuinely think it’s an atrocious and inexcusable crime” wasn’t clear enough. Obviously the state of the victim doesn’t affect the seriousness of the crime and the rapist deserves no leniancy AT ALL. There is no justification, no excuses, no extrenuating circumstances: a rape is a rape is a rape. If I can be any clearer please let me know.

    The problem seems to be that you’re more concerned with the attacker and what a bad person he is. For me, this is a given. I’m ignoring him precisely because victims have no control over the attacker – they do however have some degree of control over themselves. Again, they are not to blame for not taking precautions, but I don’t think you can say someone who has drunk so much that they’ve drunk themselves into a stupor and fallen unconscious is “not at all responsible” – because they could have reduced the risk.

    “If wearing a certain type of clothing is not provocative of a rape, then neither is sitting down in a opublic place at 1am in the morning.”

    I’m not saying it’s “provocative” or should be used to reduce the seriousness of the attackers crime, but if you do something like that which puts you in danger then I think negligence is quite an apt word to describe what you’ve done. Again, I’m not sure this even needs to be said, but to make sure nobody gets the wrong end of the stick, the aforementioned negligence has absolutely NO bearing on the seriousness of the crime committed and is in NO way an excuse and does not in ANY way reduce the culpability of the rapist.

    “The rape is still a rape at 1am, the sentence should be as long as a rape committed in broad daylight, whether or not the victim is drunk or sober. End of story. “

    I would have thought that was obvious, if not before then certainly from what I’ve said above. If not – I wholeheartedly agree with the above quote.

  • Jo

    “The problem seems to be that you’re more concerned with the attacker and what a bad person he is.”

    Beano I AM and I totally accept that you are, but this surveys shows that significant numbers do not have this attitude and sentencing would seem to indicate that neither do some judges. In fact the court system can extend the humiliation and torture originally perpetrated by the attacker into making the victim face her rapist in court. Sadistic.

  • joc

    Jo & Slugfest,

    Please don’t misunderstand me – I think rape is a horrible crime and I don’t want to trivialise it in any way. I have two very young daughters and a dear wife and I can’t imagine what I would do if anything ever happened to them.

    I still think though, that there needs to be a little balance in the discussion, much in the same way that I take reasonable precautions in my own personal security and that of my family.

    I hope I have made clear that regardless of the situation, the agressor is responsible for the crime.

  • joc

    Jo,

    I would agree that court practice needs to improve in this regard both in the UK and RoI.

    The ability of the agressor to humiliate the victim is atrocious.

  • Brendan

    The BBC report on this survey last night interviewed a psychologist. His point was that rape is fundamentally a power issue and consequently it doesn’t matter that a woman was drunk/scantily clad/acting flirtatiously (is that the right spelling?)or in a “bad area”.

  • SlugFest

    Brendan,

    My point exactly — though you said it much better.

    Joc,

    I appreciate your comments. The idea of taking reasonable precautions does only works to a certain degree. The problem there, though, lies with the unfortunate victim who thought she was doing everything right — she’s left feeling guilty, wondering what else she could have done to protect herself. I’ve seen this happen countless times.