Okay, so I haven’t written here for a while and this is an unusually heavy topic for me, but after watching ‘I Never Said Yes’ on the BBC iplayer, I feel there are some things that I generally want to rant about concerning the subject or perception of rape in the UK.
Just to debrief those of you who haven’t yet encountered this documentary (I recommend you do) ‘I Never Said Yes’ investigates why, despite over 15,000 cases of rape being committed every year only just over 1,000 end up in convictions. Considering the amount of women that never even report their rapes, the math just doesn’t add up. Even if some accusations are false, there’s no way that only 10% of reported rapes are true. Its just logic. Our legal system is failing victims of rape and the programme attempts to investigate why, the main conclusion being: we culturally expect victims of rape to be somehow responsible for the event, whether through clothing, drink or drugs.
So, this is what really angered me whilst also making me feel extremely saddened. I have many male friends who would be horrified by the thought that wearing a miniskirt somehow meant you were ‘up for being raped’, but the sad truth is that some people out there do and they couldn’t be more mistaken. Rape is far far far older than the miniskirt. Fact. There has never been a century where rape did not exist, even if there was not a criminal term for it. A Victorian rapist may have argued that his victim showed him just a little bit too much ankle for christ’s sake, it is absurdity and people will always use it as an excuse if they can. So don’t let them.
Furthermore, in a society where people like to drink and take drugs, boys have to accept that an intoxicated woman (or man for that matter, men can be raped too) is not in a position to decide what she/he does or does not want. You wouldn’t jump on someone whos been knocked unconscious in broad daylight and start having sex with them, why is someone who is passed out through drink/drugs any different?! Yes, we can all take precautions and try to avoid getting in that state, but if someone does find they’ve overdone it, the rapist is still responsible. We seem to shift the blame onto the victim in this situation, but the fact is the rapist still made a conscious decision to commit a crime and hurt someone else.
Finally, it seems to be overlooked that a lot of these cases include horrific violence. On the programme, the presenter spoke to a group of boys who believed that some women may seem to ‘lead men on’ on a night out, which could lead to rape. I cannot get my head round this, especially because of the violent nature of forced penetration. Someone might think because a girl is flirting she wants sex, but does said person also imagine she wants a black eye, bruises, scratching, internal bleeding etc too? It seems like another pathetic excuse for a horrendous crime once more.
One great thing I actually did take from the programme was how brave some of the victims involved are. They’ve gone on to speak about their ordeals, help others, and even set up counselling advice for other victims of rape. They are geniunely amazing and I hope that all victims can one day feel free to do the same.