Tuesday, 8th January, 2013
MELANIE HARVEY says it's time to stop blaming the victims of rape, whether they be male or female, for the crime.
WHEN news broke of another young woman being raped in Glasgow, the first question I heard someone (a man) ask was: “What time did it happen?”
Forgive me for jumping to conclusions, but the next thing I expected him to ask was: “What was she wearing?” Or “Was she on her own?”
Because that is what we always ask when a woman is raped, isn’t it?
We presume that by walking home alone, late at night after a fun evening with friends and possibly a few glasses of wine, she was asking to be attacked – her very actions somehow inviting rape.
And don’t get me started on the men – and women – who think a woman in a short skirt who has sunk a few alcopops is telling men “come and get me”. No woman asks to be raped.
Yes, some girls go for a night out with the purpose of meeting a man. Some even want to have sex. So what?
Men have been doing that since the year dot and are rarely condemned for drinking and taking girls home. In fact, they are probably congratulated by their mates for still being capable of the act after 10 bottles of beer and a few Tequila shots.
But heaven forbid a young woman might do the same. If sex is consensual it might not always be sensible, it might even be stupid, but it isn’t a crime.
But I digress. Rape might involve sex but it isn’t about love, fun or even a bit of a drunken giggle.
It is about violence and power.
So, after yet another sickening attack is made public, the politicians are coming out with the usual soundbites about how they are going to tackle this most disgusting of crimes.
And, while I welcome the plans and hope beyond hope they will change attitudes and conviction rates, I am just not convinced.
It will all be a bit pointless when most women are too scared to report the attack.
That is probably because the majority involve women being attacked by someone they know.
Rape Crisis Scotland revealed this week that 85 per cent of women calling them were attacked by someone they knew. Three-quarters of callers to Rape Crisis Scotland hadn’t reported the attacks to police.
Of those who did, 60 per cent said they were happy with the response. But almost a quarter said officers treated them with suspicion or disinterest.
I know at least two women who have been attacked by men they knew after a few glasses of wine and a bit of flirting.
Did they tell the police? Of course not. They barely even told their friends as they were so ashamed and worried people would say it was their fault for allowing a kiss then wanting to back out when he wanted more.
We need to stop blaming the victims of rape, male and female, for the crime.
Until we do that, the attackers will keep getting away with it.