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Is rape rape?

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PDR
817739.  Fri May 20, 2011 10:56 am Reply with quote

I have to say I'm feeling a bit sorry for Ken Clarke (not a sentence I had ever previously thought I'd be saying). AFAICS he's being pilloried for asking a question he never asked, and the issue has been hijacked by a group of extremists into a totally different question. So there are two issues to discuss:

1. (the one he DID ask) - Would it be a fair trade-off to offer a further 16% reduction in sentence for people who cop a guilty plea as soon as they are questioned, thereby saving the victim any delay in justice and any questioning, court appearences etc (ie the horrid experiences which rape victims complain about)?

2. (the question he DIDN'T ask) - Is rape a completely uniform offence, all cases of which must be treated identically? Is it true to say that the man who kidnaps a woman, tying her to a bed for a 48 hour session accompanied by beatings and mutilation, is committing exactly the same kind of "rape" as the 17-year-old lad who has a bit of apparently consentual rumpy-pumpy with a girl who is subsequently discovered to be a couple of weeks shy of sixteen (rather than the 19 she had claimed to be in the night club). I know the first incident would attract other charges (kidnapping, GBH etc), but I mean is the actual "rape" part the same offense that should get the same sentence?

Views?

PDR

 
CB27
817742.  Fri May 20, 2011 11:30 am Reply with quote

In answer to "Is rape rape?", the answer is "Yes".

There are already guidelines in place for differences in circumstances, and these are taken into account when sentencing, so I think what some campaigners are up in arms about (prior to any radio silliness) is that the proposals to reduce time served don't seem to take into account the fact that some cases have a far lower sentence handed already.

Where KC stumbled was that when this was pointed out to him he initially refused to accept that some rapes carry a low sentence, and then became dismissive of the interviewer's claim about rape tariffs, saying "I must stop you repeating this total nonsense…assuming you and I are talking about rape in the ordinary conversational sense.", and then later on claiming that "date rapes can sometimes be very confusing".

He was given a very clear "out" by the interviewer and refused to take it and in initial subsequent interviews did the classic politician thing of refusing to apologise for the remarks.

I don't think in itself the remarks are a sackable offence, but Jack Straw was right when he said that if he'd uttered the same words then there would have been a demand for him to resign as well.

Going back to the proposals, and part of the discussion on QT last night, there is IMO too much emphasis on trying to work out how to change sentencing and/or prison life in order to reduce reoffending, but no one talks about how to stop people from wanting to commit crimes, or stopping them from reoffending.

Frankly, I really don't understand, after all the big promotion of the "Big Society", why the Government isn't looking to utilise the many community groups into helping people take more pride in their communities and help them feel they belong to society.

 
barbados
817763.  Fri May 20, 2011 12:03 pm Reply with quote

I have to say I was rather shocked by the news events of two days ago. And the thing that shocked me most of all is that Ken Clarke had got himself in this situation, he is a very good orator and is not often led down a route where his comments could be misquoted.

I saw the last half hour of QT last night and thought he did very well, at one point I think he got Jack Straw to agree that he didn't bring up the voting for prisoners because he was scared of the backlash.

 
Neotenic
817773.  Fri May 20, 2011 12:15 pm Reply with quote

On another thread I referred to this as an 'ambush' of Ken Clarke - and I think that's exactly what this was.

From the way it was all presented, people could be forgiven for thinking that the policy under discussion was solely related to sentencing protocols for rapists - but that wasn't the case at all.

The BBC interviewer had statistics and rape victims on the other end of a phone-line prepared to speak publically - but what we don't really know is whether Ken was briefed beforehand on exactly which offences they would zero in on.

Rape is, naturally, a highly emotive subject - so when discussing it, you have to pick your words very carefully. Something which you can't necessarily do without at least a bit of preparation.

And reading the transcript, it does seem to me that Ken was forced to speak off the cuff - which was an almost surefire guarantee that he would say something, anything, that would piss someone off somewhere, or could be spun into outrage at least.

And that's exactly what happened.

Of course the fundament of the argument is idiotically simplistic - only an utterly dribbling moron would suggest that rape is anything other than a horrendous crime, and I think it says more about the general cartoonification of politicians that people would seriously countenance the suggestion that Ken could believe that it isn't.

But, I suppose it is a journalists job to some extent to catch a politician unawares with a very sensitive line of questioning. It certainly makes writing the headlines a lot easier. However, does that make it appropriate for PMQs? I seriously doubt that.

In calling for Ken to be sacked in that forum, especially when he had explicitly said that the tariff should match the severity of the crime and that should be decided by judges on a case by case basis, Miniband looked like a dreadfully grubby opportunist.

And even on the broader point of sentence reduction, it was the last government that introduced the provision for up to a 33% reduction - and Ken gets hung out to dry for suggesting that it could - not would be increased by a mere 17% extra? What is going on?

Looking back through the BBC archives we find this story of the coverage of the introduction of the original policy in 2004. Note that the particular type of criminals singled out as the example in this case are murderers. Still emotive, yes, but not in quite the same way - and certainly fewer opportunities in there to accuse, to all intents and purposes, the most reasonable and rational minister on the entire front bench of 'outright misogyny'.

This whole outcry is not about policy, it's about point-scoring. And that is a fucking tragedy.

 
Jenny
817777.  Fri May 20, 2011 12:23 pm Reply with quote

I think one of the problems in talking about rape is a failure to realize that there is a very large area of interaction that can reasonably be described as rape in between the two obvious extremes PDR talks about. This interaction can have devastating psychological consequences for the woman involved and have an impact on her for the rest of her life, even if it has apparently done her little physical damage at the time.

There is also a failure on the part of some men to realize that a woman's failure to defend herself with tooth and nail largely springs from a fear of worse physical consequences for her if she fights than if she doesn't, if the man is larger and stronger than her, which is often the case. There is also the 'paralysed by fear' thing, of course. I have seen it seriously argued that a woman who does not fight back must be secretly welcoming the attack, and indeed this kind of distorted thinking about women is quite common among sex offenders.

 
Neotenic
817799.  Fri May 20, 2011 12:59 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
There is also a failure on the part of some men to realize...


This is a pretty common way of framing the argument about rape - but it does speak to me also of a failure of some women to realise that rape is not a female-victim-only crime.

The fact is that the taboos surrounding male rape and male-male rape in particular are far deeper, and it is telling that pretty much the only time it will ever be mentioned in mainstream media is in a rather jokey fashion when some public figure or other goes to prison.

 
Jenny
817804.  Fri May 20, 2011 1:07 pm Reply with quote

That is absolutely true, Neo, and I should have made that clear. However, given that all rape is under-reported, I think that the proportion of male-male rapes to male-female rapes is still extremely small. It's not that it's not serious and shouldn't be taken seriously (in fact it isn't even defined as a crime of rape at the moment, which it should be) but that it is misleading to think that it is in any sense as large a problem to address.

 
exnihilo
817809.  Fri May 20, 2011 1:38 pm Reply with quote

This is going to sound facetious, but it's genuinely not: we are forever being told that rape is under-reported, but if it's not being reported how do we actually know that? What parallel set of figures are there to the standard crime figures that demonstrate this?

 
Spud McLaren
817812.  Fri May 20, 2011 1:52 pm Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
... This interaction can have devastating psychological consequences for the woman involved and have an impact on her for the rest of her life...
Rather more than that, I fear. I can think of one case I know quite well in which the psychological effects have reached down three generations of a family.

 
sjb
817822.  Fri May 20, 2011 2:11 pm Reply with quote

Just something I've wondered in the past, what are the rates of male-male rape by country? Mr. Google just told me that 9% of reported rapes in the US are male-male. But, I think the rates vary quite a bit geographically. (Seems like I read something to that effect in a newspaper several years ago, and it's stuck with me ever since.) But, does anyone know where to look for country-by-country specifics? Just curious.

 
PDR
817823.  Fri May 20, 2011 2:12 pm Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
This interaction can have devastating psychological consequences for the woman involved and have an impact on her for the rest of her life, even if it has apparently done her little physical damage at the time.


Part of me wants to ask "Why", because I remember Germaine Greer expressing some controversial views on this subject.

But the last time I did it attracted a very negative response and I fear it's not possible to have an objective discussion on this topic.

PDR

 
Leith
817840.  Fri May 20, 2011 3:15 pm Reply with quote

exnihilo wrote:
This is going to sound facetious, but it's genuinely not: we are forever being told that rape is under-reported, but if it's not being reported how do we actually know that? What parallel set of figures are there to the standard crime figures that demonstrate this?

In the UK, the main source for this seems to be the British Crime Survey - an anonymous questionnaire completed annually by 13,000+ people.

Some discussion of this and other sources here:
BBC News: Rape: A complex crime

Here's the relevant supplement from the 2009/2010 survey report (page 68 onwards):
Home Office BCS Supplement: Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence 2009/10

Headline figures from the above survey:

- 0.4% of women reported that they had been victim of a serious sexual assault in the past 12 months, where "serious sexual assault" is defined as "rape or assault by penetration including attempts".

- 0.3% of women reported that they had been raped in the past 12 months.

- The number of men reporting that they had been victim of a serious sexual assault in the past 12 months was too small to support statistical analysis (27 out of 9892 if I read correctly).

- 11% of victims told the police about their most recent experience of serious sexual assault.

 
suze
817875.  Fri May 20, 2011 4:36 pm Reply with quote

CB27 wrote:
In answer to "Is rape rape?", the answer is "Yes".


It is of course, but even so I think that Ken Clarke was guilty of clunky language more than anything else.

Rape is a very serious criminal offence; I don't think that Mr Clarke or anyone else is denying that. Where he erred - as noted by Ian Hislop on tonight's HIGNFY - was to suggest that there are "less serious rapes". But there are more serious rapes.

If a man pulls a knife or a gun on a woman he doesn't know, drags her down a darkened alley, and there rapes her, well he deserves life for that. If a man takes matters with his established partner to fourth when she wanted to stop at third, it's still a serious matter - but he doesn't deserve life for it.

I'm well aware that I'm speaking here from the point of view of a woman who has been fortunate enough never to be raped. If I had been, maybe I'd feel differently - but I do understand where Mr Clarke is coming from.

As, I dare say, does Victoria Derbyshire. Since she's my age to within a few months, and probably comes from much the same place on the political compass too, I can identify with her to some extent - but she does have a bit of a reputation for having her own agenda when she conducts interviews.

One thing that does strike me every time I see Ken Clarke interviewed is that he's in the wrong party. Is he not the best leader the Liberal Party never had?

 
Moosh
817884.  Fri May 20, 2011 4:59 pm Reply with quote

I'm not entering into any debate on Mr Clarke's comments about rape, because I don't have the time or energy to be well-informed on the subject, but spurred by suze's comment on him being in the wrong party, I've just had a quick look down his biography, and am I the only one who's surprised he's not Sir Ken by now? I suppose it wouldn't be entirely out of character for him to have refused it, but as one of the longest-serving MPs, cabinet minister under three different PMs, and widely regarded as one of the more sensible politicians of any party (current situation notwithstanding), well people have been knighted for a lot less.

 
barbados
817886.  Fri May 20, 2011 5:02 pm Reply with quote

It's a good job only men commit rape,
Just sayin'

 

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