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You just knew that Julie Bindel would say something about rape anonymity, didn\’t you?

To grant anonymity in rape cases we are saying that the problem is not with the estimated 75 to 95% that never get reported; the 94% of reports that do not end in a conviction on the charge of rape; or the widespread belief that women out drinking, flirting or just plain breathing ask for all we get. The problem, according go the new government, is the fact that a tiny percentage of men accused are innocent. Shame on the government. Let\’s campaign to ensure this proposal falls at the first hurdle.

Umm, just taking the numbers there in that para, not doing anything so eeevil as referring to reality or anything…..

That 94% of reported rapes do not lead to a conviction for rape means that, under our system of law, 94% of those acused of rape are innocent of rape.

94% can mean many things but \”tiny percentage\” ain\’t one of them.

12 thoughts on “You just knew that Julie Bindel would say something about rape anonymity, didn\’t you?”

  1. Hmmmm- how can we be certain that something unreported actually happened? By virtue of their not being reported, we cannot possibly know. Accepting that standard of evidence is laughable- proposing it is insane.

  2. She confused in many places. “Unless 94% of women are lying…” She means 94% of the woman who report being raped.

  3. I take your point Tim but there is a problem with violence against women in the UK (and probably elsewhere)..

    A young woman I know was raped (happily for me not one of my daughters). She was very reluctant to report it to the police but did so eventually. She could not face the prospect of giving evidence so although it was an open and shut case she agreed a plea bargain where the man pleaded guilty to sexual assault with penetration (I do not know who came up with this strange offence). Under our law he nevertheless counts as innocent of rape.

    Having been alerted to the problem I did a little research and came to the sickening conclusion that probably one in five women in the UK is the victim of rape at some point in her life.

  4. What difference does it make to Bindel whether the accused is named or anonymous?

    She writes,

    “To grant anonymity would be to remove the one opportunity many women have of seeing their rapist questioned, let alone convicted.”

    Umm… granting anonymity doesn’t mean the accused won’t be prosecuted.


    “If we are to go down this road in order to protect those wrongly or falsely accused, why not extend it to murder, child abuse, and theft from employers – all of which carry a significant stigma.”

    Indeed, why not?

  5. @William C.

    Let’s be clear what’s being proposed here. Convicted rapists will still be named and shamed and rightly so. Men convicted of “sexual assault with penetration” will also be named and shamed. The only people who will be affected by this change are men who have been accused of an offence but found not guilty. Some of them may indeed be guilty and getting away with it. Others will be completely innocent and this change will, maybe, allow them to live a normal life after being wrongly charged.
    I’d like to know where you got the figure of one woman in five in the UK having been raped, but I suspect it is related to US college surveys which have assumed that any woman who has sex and regrets it, or has sex after drinking alcohol or taking drugs is, by definition, a victim of rape. I sympathise with the desire to bring attention to the reality of rape and sexual assault, but I really think this kind of exaggeration is counter-productive. Rape victims need to feel they have the support and backing of the police. Including unhappy sexual experiences in a definition of “rape” is very likely to undermine that.

  6. I rather like the singer Joan Armatrading’s attitude : “Next time, take a little water with the wine”.

    Rape is terrible, but the equation “Sex = Rape” is almost as bad.

    Alan Douglas

  7. One in five women in the UK has been raped? Oh just fuck off and do us all a favour. What an utterly insane proposition. Are you seriously suggesting that levels of sexual aggression in the UK are similar to those of South Africa but are somehow being ignored by a pliant media or a societal taboo? Ludicrous on its face.

    And anyway, rape is sui generis. It’s a crime against the person whose illegality stems solely from the withdrawal of consent against its perpetration. You can’t consent to being murdered, or having GBH committed against you. You can have sex without its being an offence. You can’t legally kill someone even if he wants you to kill him (various shades of homicide taken as read.) The deed of rape itself is only actus reus with mens rea (except in strict liability crimes like voluntary underage sex where one of the parties is deemed to be too young to have meaningfully volunteered consent – and that in itself raises a host of questions.) Rape is unique in that criminality can be manufactured ex post facto. What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. The law already recognises the problematic foundation upon which a rape accusation rests in its shielding of the plaintiff. It is only fair that such protection be extended to the defendant.

    The fact I needed to colour the above with so many parenthetical clauses hints at what a minefield this is, but I think the basic justness of allowing anonymity for defendants stands.

  8. genette and david

    please see the link attached

    This is not the source for the estimate I made a
    few years ago (for which I kept no records) but it supports the general proposition that there is more sexual violence in the UK than, I think, is generally realised.

    The article says 13,000 rapes were reported in 2008. The British crime survey suggests only 11% of rapes and attempted rapes are reported. Even if you assume that rapes are more likely to be reported than attempted rapes, you can see that these figures are easily compatible with attacks of this sort running into the tens of thousands every year. My rough estimate was on the assumption of about 350,000 females born each year in the UK in recent decades (my calculations were all rough and ready which is why I used the word ‘probably’.)

    The circumstances of the – very distressing – case of which I became aware meant that I engaged in conversation at the time with a fair number of friends and family on a topic which I had never previously discussed with anyone. The conclusion I reached from these discussions was to confirm what is suggested by the Times article figures: that there is indeed a greater problem than is widely recognised. Many women are attacked (and here I include assault as well as rape) but prefer just to leave the whole miserable experience in the past rather than talk about it or bring the police into the matter. This does not surprise me after having seen the extreme reluctance of the young woman I know to go to the police.

    David -you ask if there is a societal taboo? I think that is very likely the case.

    None of my comments were addressed to the question of anonymity. I understood Tim to be protesting – reasonably enough – at Julie Bindel’s reasoning. I just wanted to make two points. One, that there are different concepts of ‘innocence’: one when you are not found guilty in a law court; and, at times, another one which may sometimes be closer to a common sense view of the concept. I also thought it worth saying that, yes, I do think we have far more serious problem in this country than is widely recognised.

  9. I revisit to see if any one has added commnets ince my last. I see they have not.

    As a coda , then, I have had a look at various sources of data on UK rapes and found estimates for UK rapes in recent years of 61,000 (British crime survey), 85,000 (BBC survey), and for statutory rape of female minors 140,000(Telegraph), so if ever genette or David Gillies revisits this site my answer is no I do not think my rough estimate was either an exaggeration or, even less, ludicrous.

    A tip for David, arguing from evidence is far more persuasive than abuse.

  10. William C claims that 1 in 5 women (20%) in the UK has been raped and subsequently proves this by linking to an article which claims that 1 in 24 (4%) has been raped.

    Perhaps David and Genette accept the 4% figure. Since they objected to the 1 in 5 figure and you totally fail to back that up, it is disingenuous to claim that your rough estimate was not an exaggeration or ludicrous. On your own evidence you were out by a factor of 5.

  11. Anon

    No, sorry, the article’s byline below the photograph – which I believe you quote – does not make sense with the data given in the article, or that given in the other sources I quoted above so I do not regard it as reliable. If there were 13,000 rapes reported and 89% of rapes are unreported – as the article suggests – that gives the total for rapes in one year at c 118,000 or roughly one for every three women in one year’s cohort of the population. You simply cannot have rapes at that level on an annual basis without it having an effect on the overall population in the long run which delivers figures of the sort in my original rough estimate rather than a one in twenty-four frequency. If you look at the British crime survey figures you will see they give figures of 61,000 in one year (or roughly 1 in 5 or 6 for one year’s population of women). And yes I know that the survey only shows that 5% of women say they have been raped since the age of 16 (though there seem to be some strange comments about the women not being able to admit that they had been raped which suggest that this is an understatement and raises some questions in its own right). The real experts would doubtless tell us for sure but I think the really big source of total rapes nowadays and in the most recent decades comes from statutory rape of the underage population – see the Telegraph’s reports suggesting this is in the order of 40% of the relevant female population.

    My original rough estimate (as I described it above) was designedly qualified by the word ‘probably’, so I make no claims for its precise accuracy, and the data sources do give differing figures which clearly indicate that there are problems with data in this area (which I think most will have guessed) but, as a ball-park estimate, on the basis of the information generally published, I am still happy with it and do not believe it is out by a factor of 5.

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