There is something profound happening in society at the moment; a kind of sea change in thought. It’s not news that cases dictating rape charges have always been somewhat precarious – in fact, that’s what makes them newsworthy. Now, apparently, the aftermath of a trial is marked from the outset.
Just as there are women who aggressively pursue and lust after wealthy footballers and a potentially lavish lifestyle, there is now a horde of vengeful females biting at the champ to ‘cry rape’. We could always do with some extra stereotypes, right? The more the merrier.
Public mood hasn’t always been so derisive, however.
By the end of the 1990s, global sexual abuse revelations concerning the Catholic church were rife. Despite the fact that prosecution for these crimes wasn’t nearly as prevalent, universal thought conveyed both compassion and revulsion. Horrified by the litany of abuse perpetrated by priests and nuns, many people duly renounced their support for a Church that would heinously cover up such crimes.
Although reignited by the UN’s latest report, the furore surrounding the Catholic church abuse scandal has dissipated in recent years. Lucky for them, we might sneer, although unlucky for Savile et al, who have seemingly hijacked the title for ‘Dirtiest Bastards of All Time’.
The figures concerning prosecution rates are not dissimilar to those of the Church’s case – only Stuart Hall has been charged -, but that is where all resemblances cease. You see, there is a marked difference between the public compassion and support levelled at those who suffered abuse from the Church, and those at the hands of Savile and his ‘gang’.
In fact before Operation Yewtree was even underway, the investigation was derided as a ‘witch hunt’ by those who regularly frequented the murky comment sections of news sites.
We might recall the recent cases of Michael Le Vell and William Roache, both long-serving actors on ITV’s Coronation Street. The two men saw their trials return ‘not guilty’ verdicts, an event that called for the thrashing open of comment section flood gates: ‘Now take the accusers to court!’ demanded paul_blackburn. ‘How can this be seen as anything other than a witch hunt?!’ decried Rollo Tomassi.
Well, maybe, Mr Tomassi, because rape is not exactly a rarified phenomena. Maybe you’re confusing the statistics between those who suffer rape, and those who make it up? The reality is that more women are raped than those who conjure up such fabrications.
But, I mean, who wouldn’t want to jump on this bandwagon? The route to actual conviction is an unobstructed avenue where derision, lack of evidence, and facing your attacker pose no problems whatsoever. Just one rape victim in 30 can expect to see their attacker convicted, but sure, it’ll be worth it in the end, right?
Wrong. As are the increasingly shrill calls for the ‘naming and shaming’ of those who bring rape accusations to court, and have their cases subsequently dismissed. Just because someone is not vindicated in their trial does not mean that person was lying or that the accused is crime-free. On an elemental level, it speaks of a lack of evidence.
We must therefore stamp out calls for the naming and shaming of those who aren’t vindicated in their call for prosecution of sexual assault and reject the ‘crying rape’ tag. It generates an inherent chilling effect on the voices of those who have suffered sexual assault, and sets a precedent whereby victims, unable to provide sufficient evidence, are branded as unreliable, and at worst, liars.
Fabrication of rape is the anomaly, not the crime.