Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Shaming Of Women Against Rape

This is probably going to be the most controversial post I am ever going to write (and I’ve sailed close to controversy on a few occasions). I will do my best to ensure I do not cause offence and make clear what I am saying and not saying.

If you were to ask me which organisations I detest the most I would answer, The BNP (and all other far right parties) and Women Against Rape. So why, you might ask, does a charity whose main aim to provide support for (female) victims of rape of sexual abuse so high on the list?

There is no doubt in my mind, nor will there ever be, that rape is one of the most horrific crimes it is possible to be a victim of. I can only begin to imagine the feelings of violation and self disgust the victim must feel, compounded by the need to relive the ordeal when reporting it to the police. It goes without saying that rape victims must receive counselling and as much support as possible. Of course the attackers must be brought to justice and removed from society. But herein lies the problem.

Rape is, unfortunately, a very difficult case to prove. If a woman claims she was raped and her alleged attacker claims the sex was consensual who do you believe? It’s a lose lose situation for a juror in such a situation because you commit an injustice either way. Equally unfortunately our justice is founded on the principle that the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty and that it is better that ten guilty people should walk free than one innocent person be convicted.

Women Against Rape, to their shame, cannot appreciate this simple principle. It is true that due to the unique nature of rape (ie the burden of proof involved) many rapists escape justice. The line between justice and vengeance is a thin one. Women Against Rape would prefer that any man tainted ever so slightly with an accusation of rape is locked away, simply to satisfy their lust for vengeance. Take a look at their website. How much of it is devoted to conspiracy theories about justice and how much there is about helping victims rebuild their lives (which is surely still necessary even if their attacker is convicted).

Which leads me on to the most emotive issue in this debate and one which Women Against Rape have spent the best part of their existence trying to dodge. What happens in the (admittedly rare) instances when a malicious accusation of rape is made? Women Against Rape argue that these cases are so rare they don’t really alter the debate. Now to an extent, they have a point. However Women Against Rape discredit and shame themselves by refusing to consider the men at the other end of such accusations as victims – on the flimsy grounds that being falsely accused is hardly the same as being raped. By the same logic a black eye is hardly the same as a knife wound in the belly; that doesn’t stop the punched person being a victim.

More disgracefully Women Against Rape fill their site with articles that question the innocence of the wrongly accused. If I was to write on this blog questioning the motives of the woman in a successful rape prosecution or even the guilt of the convicted there would be outrage. Yet Women Against Rape do this routinely and get away with it by trying to divert attention towards genuine rape victims (which is surely taking advantage of those they are supposed to be supporting).

I will re-iterate this so that there are no misunderstandings. This post is not intended to insult victims of rape (and men can be victims of rape and abuse also – another point Women Against Rape could do with acknowledging). It is an attack on a supposed charity that uses its charitable status as a smokescreen for feminism and anti male rhetoric.

If anybody involved with Women Against Rape reads this I will happily give them right of reply.

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Beyond Contempt?

People may have seen in the news yesterday that an un-named 17 year old TV actor has been charged with a number of sexual offences against another male minor. Obviously due process will now take it’s course and it would be wrong to comment on the apparent facts and pass judgement prematurely. Not that this will stop people …

However it appears that the name of the actor concerned has been trending on Twitter. Leaving aside the small but important principle of the presumption of innocence it is AGAINST THE LAW to publish the name of any juvenile accused of or convicted of a crime in England and Wales unless, an only, unless, the Judge lifts the restriction.

I engaged in a fairly revealing forum debate yesterday where it became apparent that more than a few people were not aware of this restriction and, worse, did not seem to think that it mattered. Also, as one person pointed out – probably correctly – the horse may have bolted on this one.

Interestingly a similar thing happened this year when several twitter users named the victim in the Ched Evans rape case. In that case there were arrests and prosecutions may follow. It’s curious that this hasn’t happened here. Dare I suggest the verdict doesn’t really matter now, guilty or innocent – the name of this young actor will be forever tainted by the accusation? The internet is not yesterdays papers; old pages sit there in a manner not dissimilar to plastic bags on landfill waiting for a google search to sweep them up.

The crime we’re talking about here is contempt of court. It appears that in the internet era we’ve somehow gone beyond contempt.

Extradition Update – The Price Of Justice?

This blog is hardly rolling news so everybody who cares will know that yesterday (16/10/12) Theresa May halted the extradition of Gary McKinnon. I haven’t discussed McKinnon’s case much in these pages but he was the guy who hacked into Pentagon computers apparently looking for evidence of aliens. This case has dragged on for ten years – at the time there was no extradition treaty – and yesterday’s events are a hollow victory in many ways.

Gary McKinnon’s extradition was halted on humanitarian grounds; he was judged too mentally ill to be shipped off to America. Much of this was caused by the stress of the case hanging over him for so long. It is unlikely he will ever recover fully from the ordeal. To suggest (as some on the other side of the argument might) that he has escaped would be wrong. There are many types of punishment and – a recurring theme in this blog – once somebody is touched by the justice system you are never quite free.

It would also be ridiculous to suggest that the American government were being completely unreasonable in demanding McKinnon’s extradition. The hacking took place over a period of seven years and caused considerable disruption to sensitive military systems (which America, like all countries, has for a very good reason). Hacking IS wrong; Gary McKinnon may have been an eccentric who did not understand the implications of what he was doing but he should still have been brought to book over it. That said, anybody with a modicum of common sense can see that there was no malicious intent here. Politicians are not expected to have common sense but the law is.

Gary McKinnon may yet be tried and convicted in this country. Indeed the proposed new changes in the law will allow this to happen.

So McKinnon has escaped the worse but change came too late for Christopher Tappin (a retired businessman currently awaiting trial many, many miles from home) and two British muslims sent to America on terror charges alongside the radical cleric Abu Hamza (who America is welcome to) – the most difficult extradition case to reach a conclusion on.

Which leaves just one pending case, that of Richard O’Dwyer. Any changes in the treaty will be retrospective (so no comfort there) and while Richard is certainly vulnerable (in the context of what will happen to have if extradited) his mental state is much stronger than that of Gary McKinnon. It would be ludicrously optimistic to suggest that the tide is turning against extradition, indeed what are the odds that Richard O’Dwyer’s extradition may well be ordered in the interests of balance.

I will continue to do what little I can. In the meantime I still don’t know if a date has been set for Richard’s appeal – the day of reckoning must be at hand – but somehow I fear the worst.

And why do I blog about this? Because I don’t know I would handle it if it was me in Richard’s shoes (and those of his family). I honestly don’t.

BATTLE OF THE BANDS Dive Bella Dive vs Terrorvision

A music related blog is long overdue.

Last Friday (12th October) I went to the Leeds Cockpit to see a gig by Dive Bella Dive. I saw this band in March when they supported McFly (who know how to choose their support bands given that Dive Bella Dive were sharing the slot with the extraordinary Ivyrise). I enjoyed that show, loved their most recent video so decided that the band were well worth a fiver and a train fare (plus attendant booze related expenses).

I enjoyed the show with a few niggles, none of them to do with the band. First and foremost there is something a bit depressing about being at a show when the band are a decade younger than you, never mind the bulk of the audience – this is actually the point of the blog. Secondly (and this also has a bearing) the gig was actually in the Cockpit attic, one of those dark spots of humanity where air conditioning is still science fiction. Thirdly, having got my stamp I absently tried to wander into the main room where I thought the gig was only to be thrust out – there was actually a more high profile show on that night. Upon leaving I checked the listings to see that the band playing were Terrorvision.

Terrorvision; a band I’ve not thought about for years. But as I took the train home the cogs of my memory started turning and I found myself back in 1994/95 when Terrorvision seemed to be one of the most exciting bands on the planet.

When you’re 13/14 your musical tastes are often more fluid than they become – mine certainly were. Looking back on long buried memories I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to be a serious classic rock fan, a mainstream rock fan (Bon Jovi and Aerosmith were still quite cutting edge then), an indie fan (Blur had released Parklife and people were talking about a new band called Oasis) or did I want to throw in my lot with the new British rock metal bands who seemed to be on the verge of breaking through (Skin, Little Angels, a few who even I’ve probably forgotten … and of course, Terrorvision).

In the event this last category came off the worst by some distance. Terrorvision hit their stride 1994/95, scored their biggest proper hit in 97 and then committed hari kari with a vile novelty song when nobody really cared. I remember loving the early singles; Oblivion, Pretend Best Friend, Middleman (my fave), Alice What’s The Matter – they were so … cool, frankly.

What takes us back to Dive Bella Dive. Almost eighteen years after Terrorvision they’re one of my bands at the moment. Will they still be there in a years time or will they end up just another band I saw? More to the point, viewed out of their original context (which I can’t do) who seem the better band? If anybody cares to comment, let’s have a public vote. Links below. In the meantime I’m going to dust off my copy of How To Make Friends And Influence People