No woman no cry

You may have thought you’d reached the stage when nothing Melanie Phillips said or the Daily Mail printed could shock you. Well think again… her latest column is simply grotesque. As bad, I’d say, if not worse than Jan Moir (who has been notably backwards in coming forwards to pass judgment on the morals of Stephen Gateley’s Boyzone bandmate this week). 

It’s so badly-argued, so flawed in its logic that were I not sitting in a rather busy rail carriage, I’d be shouting at my computer. Here’ are some of the “best” bits.

“Even before tomorrow’s Queen’s Speech, our new Lib-Con coalition has achieved a palpable hit. It has upset the feminist Sisterhood. For this we must all give thanks. After the long years of Labour’s Harman Terror, during which extreme man-hating feminism seemed to carry all before it, any sign that common sense may at last be reasserting itself is more than welcome.”

“It is, of course, an article of faith among such activists that women who claim they have been raped never lie because all men accused of rape are guilty. This despite the steady stream of cases in which men have been found not guilty after the evidence against them has fallen apart in court, either because it is demonstrably false and malicious or merely flimsy and ambiguous.” 

 “Of course, the belief that women are incapable of lying is ridiculous…. however, the certainty that all men accused of rape are guilty drove government policy during virtually the whole 13 years of Labour rule.”

“The cry of feminist activists both in and out of government has been throughout that the rape conviction rate, at a paltry 6 per cent, is too low. But that figure is deeply misleading because it includes all reports of rape, regardless of whether the prosecution service deems them to be well enough founded to be brought to court.”

“In fact, of those rape defendants who are tried nearly 60 per cent are convicted  –  a higher conviction rate than for other violent attacks. Furthermore, many acquittals occur because, with casual sex now so common, it has become much more difficult for a jury to decide beyond reasonable doubt whether the sexual encounter in question was consensual or not. In other words, juries are simply doing their job properly at a time of profound social change.”

“We don’t need more anonymity in rape trials  –  we need less. The injustice being done to men derives from the false accusations that result in the 40 per cent acquittal rate. And what fuels those untrue claims is that the women who make them know they will never be held to account.”

“Women were originally granted anonymity in rape cases because of the often harsh cross-examination to which they were subjected, which laid bare their sexual history…. But circumstances now are very different. Women’s sexual behaviour has changed beyond recognition. We are in a far less prissy age. Sexual modesty has gone out of the window.”

And here starts the rant from me… cover your ears, it’s gonna be loud.

Does she not realise the extent to which rape is under-reported? That the 6% figure means that 94% of cases that are reported – 94% of cases where a woman has plucked up the courage, in the aftermath of physical and mental trauma, and decided that even if she might not be believed, even if she might be seen as ‘asking for it’, or be judged for getting into the wrong situation at the wrong time with a man who turned out to be a wrong ‘un – that yes, she is going to pick up the phone and call the police. In 94% of those cases no-one is convicted.

The vast majority of reported cases never make it to court, either because  there’s not enough evidence, or because the identity of the rapist is never known, or because, in many cases, the victim is too traumatised to pursue it through the courts. And of course, given the under-reporting… what’s the actual figure for the percentage of rapes that end in a conviction? Less than 1%? And what are the chances of that percentage ever increasing if a woman has to go through the ordeal of having her name and picture and sexual history plastered all over the papers if she wants to see justice done? Oh, but of course, Melanie thinks that women don’t mind at all talking about their sex lives/ rapes (no real difference, says Melanie) in public these days.

Does Melanie Phillips have any idea at all of how many cases of rape each year, of the tiny proportion that are brought to court, are because of false allegations? Well yes, she does – she says it’s 40%. Because if 60% result in conviction (and I bet she doesn’t believe the woman in half of those cases either), then that must mean that in the other 40% the woman are wanton, drunken, man-hating slags.

Not that there wasn’t corroborating evidence, or that the jury couldn’t decide one way or the other on the basis of testimonies from the only two people at the scene of the crime. Not that the jury itself was more than a little biased, and quick to judge.

I know several people who have been raped, or seriously sexually assaulted, but never reported it. I know of only one person whose case went to court. She and her friend, walking home after a night out, rather the worse for wear, were dragged into a van,  gang-raped by a bunch of lads and then dumped half-naked in a field miles from home. And because she was a young single mum, from a troubled background, who lived on the roughest council estate in town, and because her friend had met one of the lads before, the jury bought the line from defence counsel that the young men had ‘reasonably believed’ the young women to be prostitutes. That they’d only protested when they found out they weren’t getting paid.

Not all rape victims are like Jill Saward, the brave woman who spoke out after the Ealing vicarage rape. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t been raped. It just means they’re a lot less likely to be believed.

Melanie Phillips accuses Labour women of hating men. Well, Melanie, I’d like to know – just why do you hate women so much?

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  • Matt  On May 24, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    Errrrrr, what the hell???? I didn’t think Melanie Phillips would dare stoop so low. Our rape laws are an absolute disgrace, precisely because they fail to convict those men who have committed such a heinous act of violence, pain and humiliation upon a human being that the victim cannot bring themselves to dare speak to another human being about their ordeal. That is what we should be focusing on, not this vendetta that the utterly disgusting Melania Phillips has against women.

    I completely support the anonymity granted to victims of rape in bringing their case, but I think the anonymity should be extended to cover the proposed defendant also, until the judgment. After the case has been heard and sentence handed down, the defendant’s anonymity should be lifted, and there should be a prima facie case put before the court as to why the victim’s anonymity should be lifted, with the victim, through the CPS able to refute this with evidence of reprisals or other evidence-based reasons as to why they should retain their anonymity, if the defendant has a prima facie case. I also think there should be some instances, where there is a total lack of evidence, or in the rare case that the prosecution does appear to have been brought either maliciously or completely without base, that the defendant should retain anonymity, to minimise the damage done to a legally innocent persons life.

    Melanie Phillips appears to see rape as a purely sex-based crime, but rape goes far beyond this, and is arguably even more violence-based than something like ABH or GBH, which are themselves often involved in committing the crime of rape. I do accept that there is the possibility for people to bring false accusations of crimes of all kinds, including rape, physical violence, or other lesses crimes. But this should not prevent us from changing the law to make it easier and safer for real victims to bring forward cases against real rapists. This is the only way we will ever rid our society of the blight of sexual violence against men and women.

    Finally, as I have friends who were raped and sexually attacked during their youth, and who didn’t speak out about it for years due to the fear of social stigma and the fear of not being believed, I find Melanie Phillips comments totally and absolutely sickening. I am ashamed to be in the same species as this woman, let alone in the same country.

  • Stewart Owadally  On May 25, 2010 at 12:21 am

    I’d echo the sentiments of Ellie Gellard in one of her recent posts. That this element of the media is so vile and despised by us that we should, to an extent, ignore them. Of course, they need to be held to account in the way you have done here. But we should also have faith that people reading Melanie Phillips’ article will see sense. And the people who don’t; well, they’re a minority and up there with the likes of the people that Malcolm Tucker so wonderfully described as asking whether Diagnosis Murder was on the other channel whilst watching Nelson Mandela walk to freedom.

    That said, your dissection of her absurdly ignorant opinion is necessary.

  • Stephen Towler  On May 25, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Melanie Phillips is bonkers!
    She couldn’t be more wrong on this issue but if you get annoyed every time she’s wrong you’ll end up with a coronary.

  • Aodhán Curtin  On May 25, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    I’m so glad you’ve blogged this. I don’t know how Melanie Phillips has managed to develop even worse political stances, but she’s done quite well here.

    Do you know if Labour MPs likely to make a big deal of opposing the proposed Coalition change to the court process?

  • kerrymccarthy  On May 25, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    Yes, it was specifically mentioned by Harriet in her response to the Queen’s Speech today, as something we would definitely not support. Will find a link to her comments and post separately.

  • Sara Fox  On May 25, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    Am not sure it was actually in the Queen’s Speech.

    May have been quietly dropped?

  • Twain  On June 15, 2010 at 9:38 am

    Как хорошо было Адаму: когда он произносил что-нибудь умное, он был уверен, что до него никто этого не говорил.
    What a good thing Adam had. When he said a good thing, he knew nobody had said it before. (С) Twain
    Надеюсь, Вы поняли к чему я об этом……


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